CHAPTER SIXTEEN The Parochial School
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN By What Moral Standard
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Intolerance, Bigotry, Persecution
The Parochial School
1. The Roman Church Claims the Right to Supervise All Education
2. Parochial Schools Compulsory for Roman Catholics
3. Parochial School Indoctrination
4. Narrow View of the Parochial School
5. Public Schools Sometimes Taken Over by the Roman Church
6. Roman Catholic Opposition to Public Schools
7. The Two Systems Compared
8. State and Federal Aid for Parochial Schools
9. Education in Romanist Dominated Countries
10. The Christian School
The Roman Church Claims the Right to Supervise All Education
Webster’s New International Dictionary defines “parochial” as “(1) of or pertaining to a parish…; (2) confined or limited to a parish; as of parochial interest; hence limited in range or scope; narrow; local; as a parochial mind or point of view. …”
When we apply this term to a school we mean one created and governed by a church organization. Such a school may be created because the parent body does not consider the existing school system adequate (in most cases because it omits or gives unsatisfactory religious instruction) or because no other school is available. In the United States the motive for parochial schools is clearly the former.
One of the totalitarian claims made by the Roman Catholic Church, as professedly the only true church and the only organization on earth that has a right to speak for God, is the right to control all education, outside as well as inside its membership. Its ideal is that education should be the exclusive monopoly of the priesthood. Repeatedly it has denounced public education, that is, education organized and controlled by a public authority such as a local, state, or national government. Pope Pius IX, in his Syllabus of Errors, in 1864, condemned the public school system in these words:
“The direction of public schools in which the youth of Christian states are brought up… neither can nor ought to be assumed by the civil authority alone, or in such a manner that no right shall be recognized on the part of any other authority to interfere in the dispositions of the schools, in the regulation of the studies, in the appointment of degrees, and in the selection and approval of masters. … It is false that the best conditions of civil society demand that popular schools be open to the children of all classes, or that the generality of public institutions should be free from all ecclesiastical authority. Catholics cannot approve a system of education for youth apart from the Catholic faith, and disjointed from the authority of the church” (Propositions 45, 47, 48).
In another statement Pope Pius IX declared: “Education outside of the Catholic Church is heresy.” But we may well ask, just what has education in the Roman Church done for the masses of Italy, France, Spain, and Latin America? And again we ask: If the direction of the public schools, which are paid for with tax money, should not be in the hands of the community which pays for it, where should it be? Certainly it should not be in the hands of a foreign pontiff of a different faith, nor should it be turned over to a totalitarian church which is under foreign control.
Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical, On the Education of Youth (1929), declared:
“In the first place, education belongs pre‑eminently to the Church for two supernatural reasons. … As for the scope of the Church’s educative mission, it extends over all people without any limitations, according to Christ’s command: ‘Teach ye all nations.’ Nor is there a power which can oppose or prevent it.”
Pope John XXIII, on December 30, 1959, reiterated the papal claim in substantially the same words.
Rev. J. A. Burns, president of Holy Cross College, Washington, D. C., in his book, The Growth and Development of the Catholic School System in the United States, says:
“We deny, of course, as Catholics, the right of the civil government to educate, for education is a function of the spiritual society. … It [the state] may found and endow schools and pay the teachers, but it cannot dictate or interfere with the education or discipline of the schools” (p. 223).
In these statements we have the claim of the Roman Church that it is the only rightful educator in the world. It denies the right of the state even to establish secular schools for its own order. According to this teaching the sole right and duty of the state in this field is to collect taxes for the establishment and maintenance of Roman Catholic schools.
It does not hesitate to claim openly, even in the Protestant and democratic United States, that education is exclusively a function of the Roman Catholic Church—as indeed it also claims that preaching and the administration of the sacraments are functions of the Roman Church only. This claim implies that education should be denied to all those outside the Roman Church. And indeed that is the policy that the Roman Church puts into effect in areas where she is in control—another means by which Rome seeks to maintain her control over the people.
What the Roman Church really wants is a concordat between the Vatican and each nation, such as that under which Italy, Spain, Portugal, and various other nations have been or are governed, through which a large part or perhaps all of the educational process is turned over to the Roman Church while being paid for by the state. Her aim is to dominate public and private schools to the exclusion of all other churches and religions. The teaching of the Roman Catholic religion in the public schools becomes compulsory, even for Protestant children, as in present day Spain, if the Roman Church has her way. The first step in that process in a country such as ours is to undermine the public schools by making her parochial schools tax supported, while at the same time placing as many Roman Catholics as possible in the public schools as teachers. But such a condition destroys the very foundation of democratic and representative government. Concerning this problem MacGregor says:
“A country such as America cannot expect to come to any reasonable terms with the Roman Catholic hierarchy on the subject of education. The Church is avowedly opposed not only to public schools but also to independent schools and universities that are not under the control of the Roman Catholic Church, to which alone, it is affirmed, belongs the right to teach anything.
“In practice, however, in a country such as the United States, the Church is unable, for obvious reasons, to enforce this principle. So the hierarchy has to content itself with the more practical aim of securing Roman Catholic parochial schools at the public expense.”
After saying that the Roman Church thus seeks “to make its own educational system a charge on the American public,” he adds:
“Financially it would hardly be better news to the hierarchy if Congress were to pass a bill appropriating money from the Treasury for the payment of mass stipends to all Roman Catholic clergy throughout the country. …
“It is by means of censorship and boycott, and above all, educational indoctrination at public expense, that it is hoped to transform America into a country that is predominantly Roman Catholic in spirit; that is to say, one in which it would be very imprudent to speak openly against anything uttered by a Roman Catholic bishop, and exceedingly dangerous to speak even privately in favor of anything uttered by anyone who was explicitly under the ban of the Church” (The Vatican Revolution, pp. 148‑150).
It is important to remember that historically the American system of free, universal public education was exclusively a product of Protestantism. Practically all of the people in colonial America were Protestant. The Puritans of New England contributed most toward developing the ideal that all classes should have equal educational opportunities. Having come to America to secure religious freedom for themselves, it was only natural that they should turn to education as one means of promoting their faith.
Our first college, Harvard, was established in 1636, just 16 years after the landing at Plymouth Rock, and it was intended primarily as a school to train those preparing for the ministry. The first elementary schools were in the homes and churches, usually with the local pastor as the instructor. So keenly was the need felt for grammar schools that in 1647 a legislative act provided that every town having as many as fifty householders should appoint a teacher and provide for his wages, and that every community having as many as one hundred householders should provide a grammar school.
The next colleges of earliest origin, William and Mary (Episcopal) in 1693, Yale (Puritan) in 1701, Princeton (Presbyterian) in 1746, as also Dartmouth, Brown, Rutgers, and the University of Pennsylvania, were established through church influences during the colonial period, before the Constitution was written and before those generally recognized as the champions of our American way of life were born. Those schools were not the product of government but of the church.
Parochial Schools Compulsory for Roman Catholics
The First Plenary Council of Baltimore, in 1853, called upon all bishops to establish parish schools in every church in their dioceses. The Second Plenary Council of Baltimore, in 1866, repeated that call and took steps to make it effective.
Canon Law 1374 denies freedom of choice to Roman Catholic parents in regard to schools, and says that they must send their children to parochial schools under pain of mortal sin unless excused from doing so by the bishop. Canon Law 1381 decrees concerning the school setup:
1. “In all schools the religious training of the young is subject to the authority and inspection of the Catholic Church” [i.e., the priest or bishop].
2. “It is the right and duty of the Bishops to take care that nothing is taught or done against the Faith or sound morals in any school in their territory.”
3. “The Bishops have also the right to approve the teachers of religion and the textbooks and further to require that texts be dropped or teachers removed, when the good of religion or morality demands this action.”
Thus the curriculum, staff, and operation of the parochial school are under the complete domination of the bishop. Parents have no choice, no rights at all, as regards teachers, texts, or methods of instruction, as over against the bishop, if he chooses to exercise his authority. Nor has any school board or committee any choice in the management of the school except as that choice may be delegated to it by the bishop.
The fact is that the parochial school has been promoted primarily by the priests and bishops as a means of keeping the children of their church separate from Protestant children and from public school influences during their formative years, the better to indoctrinate and control them. If left to themselves most Roman Catholic parents would send their children to the public schools, and many do so in spite of the pressure from the priests. After more than one hundred years of effort by the hierarchy to impose the parochial school system on their people, less than half of their children attend those schools.
In the United States there are some 10,760 parochial grade schools with an enrollment of approximately 4,700,000, and some 2,432 high schools with approximately 900,000 students.1 The National Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has indicated that the total grade and high school enrollment in all schools is approximately 35,000,000. That means that the parochial schools enroll approximately one out of seven, or about 15 percent. And that of course includes some who are not Roman Catholics. Also there are about 330,000 students enrolled in 278 Roman Catholic colleges and universities. The parochial school enrollment has risen from about 5 percent in 1900 to the present figure, with the primary increase having come since the close of the Second World War in 1945. All of these students, of course, are taught Roman Catholic polity (political, economic, and social) as well as Roman Catholic doctrine. Approximately 90 percent of all parochial and private elementary and high schools in this country are under the control of the Roman Catholic Church. Less than half of those high schools are accredited.
Let it be clearly understood that we do not object to church related schools as such, as they are conducted, for instance, in the Lutheran and some other churches, but only to that form of parochialism that is found in the Roman Catholic Church.
1 In contrast with developments abroad, Roman Catholic parochial schools in the United States in recent years have declined. According to a report of the National Catholic Educational Association, enrollment in the elementary and secondary schools dropped from 5.6 million in the 1964‑65 school year to 4.6 million in 1969-70.
Parochial School Indoctrination
In view of the fact that some 5,600,000 Roman Catholic children at the grade and high school level are being trained in the parochial schools, what is the hierarchy teaching these future Americans? It is well known that such schools do not confine their indoctrination to religion. History books are rewritten to present a “Catholic version.” Roman Catholic schools do not share a mutual pride and appreciation with the public schools in setting forth the problems and difficulties and progress of the early Colonists, such as the Pilgrims, Puritans, Quakers, etc., practically all of whom were Protestants. Protestant national heroes, such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Roger Williams, William Penn, and others are minimized, and comparatively unimportant Roman Catholics are glorified and their deeds presented as accomplishments of Roman Catholicism. The struggles that our forefathers went through and the sacrifices they made to establish freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, the right to vote, etc., are minimized or omitted. What we consider a victory and a great step forward, they consider a defeat and a step backward. We point with pride to the constitutional provision for the separation of church and state; they brand that a mistake and say that this and other nations should have remained under the authority of the pope. A few years ago the government of Mexico by constitutional provision closed all papal sectarian schools in that country, to the end that every boy and girl should be given a true statement of the history of Mexico as taught in the public schools. Certainly every boy and girl who is to become a good American citizen should be taught a fair and truthful account of American history.
In the parochial schools Roman Catholic indoctrination is included in every subject. History, literature, geography, civics, and science are given a Roman Catholic slant. The whole education of the child is filled with propaganda. That, of course, is the very purpose of such schools, the very reason for going to all of the work and expense of maintaining a dual school system. Their purpose is not so much to educate, but to indoctrinate and train, not to teach Scripture truths and Americanism, but to make loyal Roman Catholics. The children are regimented, and are told what to wear, what to do, and what to think.2
Most of the teaching in the parochial schools is done by the nuns. They teach the children to revere and worship the Virgin Mary and to trust in images and rosaries whether they know anything about faith in Christ or not. All nuns are under solemn vows to promote their religion in every course they teach. They work year in and year out without receiving anything more than their board and keep, and without the personal freedom that every American has the right to enjoy. They are kept in abject poverty, while money flows freely to the priests, bishops, and especially to the Vatican in Rome.
2 This paragraph… was quoted in a concurring opinion by justices Douglas, Black, and Marshall as the Supreme Court of the United States, in two cases, June 28, 1971, held by decisions of 8 to 0 and 8 to 1 that State aid to parochial and private schools was unconstitutional.
As regards the content of the curriculum at the high school and college level, in the textbook, Christian Principles and National Problems, by Ostheimer and Delaney, under the imprimatur of Cardinal Spellman, we read:
“The doctrine of the Church… is that the State must profess and teach not any religion, but the one true form of worship founded by Christ and continuing today in the Catholic Church alone” (p. 98).
“The non-Catholic and the non‑baptized should be permitted to carry on their own form of worship as long as there would be no danger of scandal or perversion of the faithful. In a country where the majority are Catholics, the practice of Protestantism or paganism by an inconspicuous minority would be neither a source of scandal nor perversion to the adherents of the true faith” (p. 99).
Here we have the threat that freedom of worship will be denied to Protestants if the Roman Church gains the ascendancy. Only as long as the Protestant minority remains small and “inconspicuous” will it be allowed to exist peacefully, and even then it must not seek to carry on evangelistic work among Roman Catholics and others. But just how small and how inconspicuous it would have to be to receive this tolerance is not stated. Presumably that would rest with the individual Roman Catholic leaders. Judging by the active persecution that still is carried on against an inconspicuous minority of Protestants in Spain, it would have to be near the vanishing point. That the rising generation of Roman Catholics should be taught that when their church reaches an anticipated majority in the United States they are to start oppressing and persecuting other churches is monstrous and diabolical. And yet this is set forth under the imprimatur, and therefore with the approval of, the most prominent American Roman Catholic, Cardinal Spellman.
A similar view is taught in another widely used text, Living Our Faith, by Flynn, Loretto, and Simeon, also with Spellman’s imprimatur. It says:
“The question of union or separation of Church and State has perplexed men since the Protestant revolt. The ideal situation exists when there is perfect union and accord between Church and State, with each supreme in its own field. … In a Catholic country, when a dispute arises and settlement is unattainable the rights of the Church should prevail, since it possesses the higher authority” (p. 247).
This book also tells the students that “non‑Catholic methods of worshiping must be branded counterfeit”—and the inference is that the state should assist the church in making the brand effective.
A widely used college and seminary text, with the official nihil obstat (nothing objectionable) of Arthur J. Scanlan, S.T.D. (Censor Liborum ), and the official Imprimatur of Archbishop (now Cardinal) Francis J. Spellman, says:
“Suppose that the constitutional obstacles to proscription of non-Catholics have been legitimately removed and they themselves have become numerically insignificant: What then would be the proper course of action for a Catholic State? Apparently, the latter State could logically tolerate only such religious activities as were confined to the members of the dissenting group. It could not permit them to carry on general propaganda nor accord their organization certain privileges that had formerly been extended to all religious corporations, for example, exemption from taxation” (p. 320; from Catholic Principles of Politics, by John A. Ryan and Francis J. Boland. Copyright 1940 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Used by permission of the Macmillan Company).
The general thrust of that book is that the Roman Catholic Church must establish itself as the state church in the United States, that it must be made to prevail and eventually to eliminate all other churches.
Thus the rising generation of Roman Catholics is being indoctrinated with the belief that church‑state separation is unwise and un‑American in principle, that the Roman Church is the only true church, and that it is the right and privilege of that church to suppress others by force as it has opportunity. And we are even asked to subsidize such teaching with tax money! This same teaching is also being given more or less directly to three million other students in various public schools through this nation that are staffed in part with nuns and brothers.
When these millions of students are being trained in that kind of mental climate, how can we doubt that if and when the opportunity comes they will attempt to put those ideas into practice? The bigoted and shocking teaching that goes on in schools using such textbooks as the above mentioned is a betrayal of American freedom and democracy. It is treasonable, and it certainly should not be allowed by any group or in any schools in this nation. If such teaching were being given in a set of schools established by the Communists there would be an immediate outcry against it. But when given in Roman Catholic schools it attracts little attention, and indeed some are even willing to assist in promoting it with tax money.
Roman Catholics often pretend to Protestants that their schools for all practical purposes are the same as the public schools except that at certain periods religion is taught. But as we have shown by quotations from their own texts, the facts are quite the contrary. We particularly warn Protestant parents against sending their children to such schools. The training given can have no other effect than to undermine the faith of Protestant children. And for parents who send their children to such schools the time surely will come when they will regret their decision with bitter tears. Many Protestant parents who pay little attention to school affairs have suddenly been amazed to find their children praying to the Virgin, crossing themselves, and attending Roman Catechism classes. And when that stage is reached it may be too late to reclaim them.
The secret of the success achieved by the dictators such as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, in leading a majority of their countrymen to accept ideologies that were detrimental even to their own interests, was to concentrate on the training, or the so‑called education, of youth. Each sought to control the schools and youth organizations, and both Hitler and Mussolini, although Roman Catholics themselves, had sharp disagreements with the Roman Church concerning that problem. Each of the dictators realized that if he could control the youth of the land, the nation soon would be under his control. The Roman Church had operated on that principle for centuries, and the dictators simply took that method over as a part of their own system.
Some Roman Catholic leaders say that a school in a community is more important than a church. And indeed that is the principle on which the hierarchy is now working in Japan, Korea, Formosa, in Lutheran Sweden and Finland, and in various other places where their people are few in numbers. In various places it is now putting the building of schools ahead of the building of churches. And that policy apparently pays off since it trains a group of followers who in time form the nucleus of a church. In established communities Roman churches usually do not bother to separate church and school finances but treat them as one operation. The parochial schools, with their intense indoctrination of the young are, in a word, the “secret weapon” by which the Roman Church hopes to control the nation’s future citizens and so to win the victory over Protestantism.
Narrow Viewpoint of the Parochial Schools
One feature of the Roman schools that calls for comment is the very narrow outlook presented. This applies particularly to schools at the high school and college level. While Protestantism encourages free investigation, Romanism restricts the investigative process and is concerned primarily with its own advancement. It suppresses truth as does any totalitarian power. In the ages before the Reformation free inquiry was prohibited and men were even put to death for possessing the Bible translated into their own tongue. The Index of Forbidden Books3, still in effect as rigidly as ever, proscribes all the controversial books, magazines, and other publications of Protestants and others who oppose Romanism, and so makes it impossible for Roman Catholics to know both sides of a question.
3 See footnote [#1], [chapter 4].
Graduates from parochial high schools who enroll in state colleges or universities are surprised to find, for instance, that their history books do not agree with the ones they have been studying. They read instead about the decadence and moral corruption of the papacy during the Middle Ages, the cruel tyranny of the Inquisition, and, on the other hand, the accomplishments of Protestant leaders and nations, and many other embarrassing facts. The Roman Church wants obedience, and to that end it withholds from its people that broader knowledge and outlook on the world that makes for a well-informed and well‑rounded personality. Many Roman Catholic laymen, as well as some priests, resent the narrow, un-American atmosphere of the parochial schools. But few have the courage to express their views openly or to do anything about it. Those who expect to stay in the Roman Church simply accept the situation and keep their mouths shut.
Throughout the entire Roman Catholic system of “education,” from the parochial schools to the colleges and seminaries, the teachers, who for the most part are nuns and priests, have studied practically nothing except what has borne the official Imprimatur (“Let it be published”) of the church. The Index of Forbidden Books limits and controls their libraries. The most important qualification for teachers and professors is not knowledge and teaching ability, but indoctrination and loyalty to the church. Roman Catholic students, therefore, in a real sense are forbidden to think. They let the priests think for them. But the fallacy of that system is that the priests too are forbidden to think. They too are limited by the Imprimatur and the Index. Freedom of thought and research have very little place in such schools. And the students in such schools are, for the most part, not educated but merely trained.
Various instances can be cited showing how this narrow attitude toward learning has worked out in the past. Copernicus, a Polish‑born astronomer who died in 1543, wrote a book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies, in which he set forth the view that the sun was the center of the solar system and that the planets including the earth revolved around it. But the Roman theologians were bitterly opposed to that view. The idea that the earth was not fixed at the very center of all things was more than they could stand, and they were not open to demonstration. To make the earth a mere satellite, indeed only one among several satellites, seemed to diminish the importance of the pope, who allegedly was the ruler of the earth. Copernicus was excommunicated, and his book was put on the Index where it remained for centuries. But his scientific discoveries later proved to be true.
Thomas Aquinas, most prominent of all Roman theologians, taught that the earth was fixed in its position, and his writings tied up that false doctrine with the doctrines of the Church of Rome. In 1633 Galileo, another brilliant astronomer who supported the views of Copernicus and who discovered the telescope, was brought to trial by the Jesuits before the Inquisition. His work was examined by a committee and was condemned as dangerous to the church. He was forced to recant. But it is said that as he rose after the recantation he reiterated his views concerning the earth, saying, “Nevertheless it does move.” The Inquisition sentenced him to the dungeon for three years. Later this was changed to house arrest, under which he spent the remainder of his life. The church put an end to his scientific investigations, but the learned man was right. The Roman Church persecuted Harvey who discovered the circulation of the blood, and it anathematized Pascal, the famous French mathematician and scientist, because he dared to question some of its doctrines.
Public Schools Sometimes Taken Over by the Roman Church
In some communities in the United States where Roman Catholics are in a majority they have taken control of the public schools. This usually is accomplished by gaining a majority on the school board. In view of the fact that so few people vote in school elections, it frequently is easy for pressure groups to elect their candidates. The schools are then staffed with nuns, or in some cases with priests or brothers, the study of Roman Catholic doctrine is introduced and is practically made compulsory, and all the while the school remains on the public payroll. Pupils who object are subjected to social and economic reprisals, and sometimes are told that if they cannot adjust to the school they should go elsewhere.
Such schools are known as “captive schools.” A report in The Christian Century, July 15, 1959, said there were at least 281 such schools in 21 states. The report also said that at least 2,055 nuns were teaching in these schools. Conditions of this kind exist in Ohio, Maine, Connecticut, Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, and Arkansas, with the worst conditions in Indiana, Kansas, and Kentucky. In some of these states nuns teach in their church garb, and the classrooms display religious pictures, crucifixes, and other symbols of the Roman Catholic Church which by no stretch of the imagination can be called legitimate teaching devices. Salary checks of the nuns, who have taken vows of poverty and who therefore cannot own property, and who have no family obligations, are commonly made payable to the religious orders to which they belong, even without being subject to withholding tax deductions. But the salaries of Protestants teaching in the same or similar schools and with family obligations are subject to all of the tax deductions. This same situation has also been found to exist in regard to chaplains in the armed forces. This practice means that in reality the nuns’ salaries and those of the chaplains are paid to the Roman Catholic Church, which in turn merely furnishes them with living expenses. For all practical purposes such schools are parochial schools supported by public taxation. This illustrates again the relentless drive of the hierarchy to get tax money for its private institutions. This practice of turning the nuns’ and chaplains’ salaries over to the order to which they belong, even without tax deductions, is permitted through a special ruling by H. F. O’Connell, Chief of Technical Reference Branch, U. S. Treasury Department, which seems to have been made for the special benefit of the Roman Catholic Church. His ruling reads:
“Members of a religious order who have taken vows of poverty, are not required to report as income, for federal tax purposes, their earnings which, in accordance with their vows, they turn over to their orders.
“Members of a religious order who have taken vows of poverty are bound absolutely to obey the commands of their superiors and have no discretion as to where they will perform their duties and in what capacity; and they are further bound to turn over their entire compensation (or the amount less living expenses), to the order. By reason of the stringency of these requirements and the lack of discretion on the part of the members, such members are considered agents of the order they represent. … This is the general rule applicable where one person performs services and receives compensation as agent for another” (ruling issued December 19, 1956).
We point out first of all, however, that the restrictions under which the nuns and priests work are merely Roman Catholic Church regulations for which the government has no responsibility whatever. The nuns and priests accept those restrictions willingly and are responsible for them. In the second place, how can nuns and priests who are so completely under the control of their church organizations that they have no discretion as to where or in what capacity they perform their duties be considered free agents fit to teach in our public schools? In the third place, while the government can legitimately contract with private companies for such things as construction projects, carrying the mail, etc., under our constitutional provision for the separation of church and state it has no right to hire the religious orders of a church to provide teachers for the public schools or chaplains for the armed forces. And in the fourth place, in view of the official doctrines of their church, how can these nuns and priests be expected to teach the true principles of American freedom and democracy? How can they be expected not to teach their religion?
C. Stanley Lowell reported the following situation as existing in 1956:
“In Indiana more than two million dollars in tax funds went to ‘public schools’ that were in effect parochial schools of the Roman Church. There are 152 garbed nuns teaching in the public schools of Kansas with their salaries going to their church” (Christianity Today, January 7, 1959).
In some states long and expensive legislation has been instituted to clear up abuses of this kind. Much more is needed. Schools such as those just mentioned—public in name but parochial in purpose and operation—patently violate the religious rights of Protestant and other children who do not belong to the Roman Church. Such schools are an affront to our Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
Glenn L. Archer, executive director of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, cites the following as a typical example of church‑state abuse:
“In Bremond, Texas, the ‘public school’ is conducted in a parish‑owned building with six nuns and two priests as teachers. A suit filed there recently charged that public funds were being illegally used in support of this sectarian institution. The Bremond school is only one of 22 such ‘public schools’ in Texas that are being supported by tax funds” (The Convert, November, 1959).
In numerous instances school boards friendly to Roman Catholicism or under Roman Catholic domination have sold school buildings and grounds to the Roman Catholic Church for a mere fraction of their true values, sometimes for only $1.00, a mere token sale. At Rome, New York, an old school was “abandoned” by the city, sold for $25,000, and reopened as the Transfiguration parish school. Catholic sources admitted that the true value of the property as “estimated by experts” was not $25,000 but $300,000. In St. Louis, Missouri, publicly acquired property was resold to St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution of the Roman Catholic Church, at an alleged loss to the public in excess of $6,000,000.
Even when nuns in a public school are instructed by the school board not to teach their religion, it is vain to expect that they will not do so either directly or indirectly. They are under vows to teach their religion to all who come before them. Indeed that is the very purpose of their confession, and they will refrain from it only to the extent to which they are restrained. Protestants justly protest teaching which seeks to make Roman Catholics out of their children in the public school classrooms.
As just indicated, in several states nuns are even allowed to wear their religious garb while teaching in the public schools. In 1960 a ruling was handed down in Ohio permitting this practice. And the Roman Church pushes this practice just as far as it can without arousing too much opposition. Such symbolism inevitably has its effect on the impressionable young minds, identifying the teachers with the Roman Catholic Church and turning the pupils in that direction. Even if religion is not mentioned, even if the name “Roman Catholic” is never spoken, the church garb in itself carries the message: “This is Roman Catholicism; this is what the Roman Catholic Church teaches.” The pupils grow up looking up, perhaps unconsciously, to the nuns and priests as their mentors and guides. As a rule children tend to admire what they see in their teachers, and under normal conditions it is proper that they should do so. But it is most highly improper for the Roman Church to take advantage of this situation and to propagandize in schools that are paid for at public expense and which contain children from Protestant and other homes.
We oppose the employment of nuns in the public schools under any conditions, for the simple reason that they are not free agents. Their allegiance to their church is stronger than their allegiance to any school board. At the very least they should be required to exchange their church garb and insignia for dress that is without distinctive suggestion and which does not in itself propagandize in behalf of their religion. But even this is less than a halfway measure toward correcting the problem.
Roman Catholic Opposition to Public Schools
The Roman Church not only promotes her own school system, but is strongly opposed to the American system of free public education. She would like nothing better than to see it destroyed. This is true first of all because the Roman Church claims for herself and as a matter of right the privilege of supervising all education, so that the youth of the land can be effectively directed toward that church. Typical of this attitude are the words of Paul L. Blakely, S.J., in an article, May an American Oppose the Public School, which bears the imprimatur of the late cardinal Hayes:
“Our first duty to the public school is not to pay taxes for its maintenance. We pay that tax under protest, not because we admit an obligation in justice. … The first duty of every Catholic father to the public school is to keep his children out of it. … For the man who sends his children to the public school when he could obtain for them the blessing of a Catholic education is not a practicing Catholic, even though he goes to mass every morning. … ‘Every Catholic child in a Catholic school,’ is the command of the church.”
In the late 19th century the Roman Church began a vigorous campaign to drive Bible reading and all discussion of religion out of the public schools. The real objection, of course, was not to the teaching of religion as such, but to the fact that the Roman Catholic religion was not taught. And now that the Bible and religion have been driven out of the public schools the Roman Church denounces them as “godless,” “pagan,” “socialistic,” “immoral,” “un‑American.”
C. Stanley Lowell writes:
“Roman Catholics undertook to drive religion out of the schools not because they were atheistic or secularistic people, but because they were not powerful enough to determine the kind of religion to be taught. They preferred no religious teaching at all if they could not have Roman Catholic dogma. The provincial council of the Roman Catholic Church in Baltimore, 1840, imposed on priests the responsibility of seeing to it that Catholic children attending public schools did not participate in any religious exercises there. They were also to use their influence to prevent any such practice in the public school. The ‘secular public school’ was in substantial part an achievement of the Roman Catholic Church” (Christianity Today, January 7, 1957).
In some places, however, where Roman Catholics are able to dominate the public school moral and spiritual teaching with their own dogma, as in New York City, or where they have been able to secure public funds for their own schools, they have done an about‑face and now call for a return of religion in education.
Another practice, we may even say a standard procedure, of the parochial schools is that of “dumping” delinquent, problem children on the public schools. Acknowledgment of such practice, even from a Roman Catholic source is found in an article in the Paulist magazine Information, November, 1959, by Louise Edna Goeden, a public school administrator in an un‑named American city. She says:
“As a teacher and administrator in a large public high school I am constantly dealing with pupils the parochial school expels or refuses to enroll or re‑enroll. From experience, I know without looking that a large percentage of these entrants will be from parochial schools. From experience I also know that many will become our problem cases—because of poor scholarship or conduct or both.
“I call in the parents, and the story is always the same. The students were ‘asked’ to leave the parochial school because they had poor grades or didn’t follow directions or were behavior problems. Or they were ‘advised’ not to enroll in any Catholic school.
“As a teacher and a Catholic, I take exception to the parochial schools dumping the dullards, the sluggards and the delinquents on the public school doorstep. When my non‑Catholic colleagues say about problem students, ‘These are the very ones the Catholic schools should keep; they need religious training,’ I agree.”
The Two Systems Compared
Far from being “godless,” or “immoral,” or “un‑American,” as the Roman Catholics charge, the public school, in which all students meet as equals regardless of race, color, or creed, is uniquely designed to be a bulwark against narrow sectarianism, bigotry, intolerance, and race prejudice. The record is clear that an undue proportion of the gangsters, racketeers, thieves, and juvenile delinquents who roam our big city streets come, not from the public schools, but from the parochial schools. The Roman hierarchy must be aware of the preponderance of malefactors among their own people, and evidently they are attempting to hide their guilt behind the “godless school” smoke screen. It is time that the American people wake up to the fact that the real godless schools are the parochial schools that are turning out more than their proportionate share of the moral misfits.
C. Stanley Lowell, writing on this subject, has well said:
“Our public school system has been the keystone of democracy. It is the one place where Protestant, Catholic and Jew meet on common ground and get to know and understand each other. Very early the Romanists began to establish their own sectarian schools, although millions of Roman Catholic youth continued to attend public schools. In an endeavor to correct this situation, Romanist leaders have launched a campaign to undermine and discredit the public school. Father Francis P. Le Buffe has declared: ‘Thanks to our godless American public school… we have a generation today which does not know God.’ The Rev. Robert I. Gannon, president of Fordham University, has charged the public school is responsible for juvenile delinquency and suggests that there would be none if Roman Catholic moral teaching were given to all. Unfortunately, it just happened that at the time Dr. Gannon was making this speech in New York City, three fifths of all the juvenile delinquents being arrested in that area were Roman Catholics (Roman Catholics make up only one fifth of the population of New York City). It just happens, too, that Roman Catholics supply more than twice their proportionate share of the prison population of this country” (pamphlet, A Summons to Protestants).
And to the same general effect Dr. Walter M. Montano says:
“Let me disabuse those Protestants who send their children to Catholic schools in the fond belief that they ‘receive a better education.’ Actually, the education in Catholic schools is poor to a degree that would shock our educational authorities if they were ever permitted to find out about it. The deficiencies of our public schools, over which we are concerned, do not compare for a moment with the abysmal ignorance which passes as Catholic education.
“Many American Catholic children are being taught by ignorant European peasants in this country solely through the connivance of Catholic politicians. Too often their teachers are nuns who know nothing of American democracy or American institutions, who cannot speak grammatically even in their own tongue. Add to this the suppression and distortion of facts which constitute history, literature, and such little of the arts and humanities as are ‘taught’ in the Catholic schools, and you have the quality of Roman Catholic education.
“For instance, the word ‘Inquisition’ is hardly known to Catholic students. If mentioned at all, the Inquisition is represented as a political project in which Holy Mother Church’s office is merely to turn over troublesome political undesirables to the proper authorities. The same explanation is given of the burning of Joan of Arc, with the church’s responsibility played down to nullity and that of the political participants played up.
“This policy is also followed in dealing with current Colombian persecutions. Never is it revealed that the political authorities in all those cases held or hold their posts only by sufferance of the Roman Church and only as long as their decisions reflect her will.
“While whitewashing Rome, Catholic education loses no opportunity to vilify Protestants and Protestantism in a way calculated to engender resentment and hatred, even in the trusting heart of a child.
“Turning from the social to the natural sciences, we find them faring as poorly. It is no accident that the United States fails to boast a single major Catholic scientist. The fact is that the Roman Church is afraid of science and would suppress it if she could as in the days of Galileo’s recantation. Her justified dread is based on the fact that science has so often proved her wrong. The need of private tutoring before they are able to meet matriculation requirements at standard colleges and universities is a common experience for Catholic students” (Christian Heritage, May, 1959).
One of the set purposes of the parochial school is to erect a wall between Roman Catholics and the other people of the community, not only the students but the parents as well, and so to isolate them to some extent from the liberalizing tendencies in American life. Children in a parochial school are taught that only the Roman church has the “truth,” that all others are in “error,” and that it is “a sin against faith and a rebuff to God” even to attend another church (see Living Our Faith, p. 114). They are also taught that any marriage ceremony involving a Roman Catholic is “null and void” unless performed by a priest, and that the marriage of a Roman Catholic before a minister or an official of the state is only “an attempt at marriage” (p. 290). Such teaching is bigotry of the worst kind. Add to this the fact that 90 percent of the teaching in the parochial school is done by brainwashed nuns and priests who throughout their lives are kept in a rigid mental strait jacket in which they are forbidden to read books or magazines not approved by the hierarchy, or to attend or listen by radio to religious services other than those of their own church, or even to carry on an ordinary conversation with people from other churches concerning religious matters, and that these teachers are not under a school board but under the absolute authority of one man, the bishop of the diocese, and the narrowness of the parochial school becomes so evident that it cannot be denied.
Since the Roman Catholic Church is so opposed to the public schools, the question arises: Should Roman Catholics—laymen, nuns, or priests—be allowed to teach in the public schools? Our answer is that they should not as long as they maintain their allegiance to the hierarchy. Protestants are not allowed to teach in the schools in Spain. In the other Roman Catholic countries it is very difficult, if not impossible, for Protestants to secure teaching positions. But the fact is that many Romanists are allowed to teach in this country. And not only that but in some places they are given a preference. In 1933 a law was passed in New York State making it an offense, punishable by a fine or imprisonment, even to inquire concerning the religious affiliation of applicants for teachers’ positions! Thus the citizens of that state were deprived of one of the safeguards of civil and religious liberty, that is, the right of free speech and inquiry and the way opened for teachers who are opposed to the public school system to be forced upon a community contrary to the wishes of the majority of the people of that community. Concerning this general subject Dr. Zacchello says:
“The Roman Church—popes, bishops, priests, and laymen—do not hesitate in opposing and denouncing our public schools. Then why should the followers of Romanism be allowed to teach in public schools? Would you employ in your business a man who would tell your customers that your merchandise is rotten and that they should buy from his relatives’ store? And would you want to finance that rival store?
“No business man in his right mind would do this. Yet our government is not only employing teachers who are deliberately and publicly against our educational system, but is considering the financing of private Roman Catholic schools.
“If the public schools of this country are not good enough for the children of Roman Catholic parents, then the true American parents should consider their children too good to be taught by Roman Catholic teachers. I am referring, of course, to Roman Catholics who take orders from the Vatican (Ins and Outs of Romanisrn, p. 170).
In most states there is no requirement that private or parochial schools:
- Meet the standards of the public schools;
- Meet any minimum requirements;
- Report their attendance;
- Make annual reports to the department of public instruction;
- Be inspected by state officials;
- Be licensed or registered under state regulations;
- Require the teachers to have the same qualifications as those in the public schools; or,
- Require the teachers or their teaching qualifications to be registered with the department of public instruction.
State and Federal Aid for Parochial Schools
As the Roman Church has grown in this country the parochial schools also have grown. Often they have been staffed with poorly equipped nuns who served without pay, and often they have been conducted in inferior buildings with inferior equipment. In recent years, however, the Roman Church has made a considerable effort to improve its schools, particularly in the larger cities. In fact the aggressive actions of the hierarchy indicate that their ultimate goal is to take over the public school system here as they have done in the predominantly Roman Catholic countries. But before they can do that they must undermine it. This they attempt to do, first by securing fringe benefits. Usually they begin by asking for bus transportation. In some places this is now provided, sometimes through state or local law, oftentimes without benefit of law if there is no public protest. But free bus transportation does not satisfy them. Instead it only serves as a springboard for further demands. So consistently has this plan been followed that it has been appropriately termed “the school bus wedge.” The next step is to ask for free lunches, free text books, free equipment, etc. The plan then calls for state or federal aid in erecting school buildings and in paying teachers’ salaries, but never with state supervision, so that eventually the state pays for the schools and the Roman Church operates them.
Regarding the school bus problem the magazine Church and State recently said:
“One in three children in school today must be transported to and from the institution. The bill for public school transportation is $417 million annually. On the basis of the claimed attendance at parochial schools, and the national transportation average cost of $37 per pupil for those who need transportation, the subsidy to the [Roman] Church for transportation to its schools would run in excess of $61 million.”
In various communities efforts to vote bonds for the erection of badly needed public school buildings have been defeated by an organized Roman Catholic vote, with the purpose of forcing equal appropriations for parochial schools. The hierarchy has made it clear to the U.S. Congress that it will oppose any federal aid to education bill unless aid to parochial schools is included. It is interesting to notice that in Puerto Rico, in the summer of 1960, the failure of the Roman Church to get legislation giving it the right to conduct classes in religion in the public school as well as certain other benefits was the occasion for the launching of a new Roman Catholic political party as a direct means to achieve those goals. But the new party fared rather badly in the 1960 election.
The campaign to shift the cost of Roman Catholic schools to the American taxpayer has been vigorously pushed, but up until now it has met with only minor success. Most Protestant denominations are strongly opposed to the use of public funds to aid parochial schools, and it has been particularly galling to the Roman hierarchy that it has not been able to put its hands into the public treasury in the United States as it is so accustomed to do in many other countries. To provide federal aid for parochial schools would mean that a nation which is four‑fifths non-Catholic would build private religious schools for about one seventh of the children who attend those schools. But the never-ending campaign for tax money goes on.
The Supreme Court of the United States has quite consistently upheld the principle of separation of church and state as set forth in the first amendment to the Constitution. Free bus transportation has been permitted, but only by a divided opinion, the judges voting five to four to permit it. In this connection we think that logic is on the side of Judge Ralph M. Holman, in a Circuit Court, in Oregon, who in a suit regarding the furnishing of textbooks to parochial schools, ruled against such aid and indicated that in his opinion the five Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of the constitutionality of parochial school bus appropriations were wrong, and that the four who constituted the minority were right. In that decision he said:
“Anything that assists a religious sect to conduct a separate school where all instruction is permeated with religious overtones is an aid to religion. The proof in this case is conclusive that the sole purpose in maintaining the private school is to promote religion.
“It makes no difference whether books, teachers, equipment, transportation, or buildings are furnished, nor does it make any difference to whom they are furnished. In truth, all are an integral part of the whole which makes up the school and the educational process. You cannot logically distinguish one from the other. They constitute the elements of an educational process permeated with religious purpose” (Church and State, April, 1960).
It should be clear to all that a Roman Catholic parochial school is an integral part of that church, as definitely so as is the service of worship. A parochial school is usually developed in connection with a church. In many cases the church and school monies are not even separated. Such a school is in no sense a public school, even though some children from other groups may be admitted to it. The buildings are not owned and controlled by a community of American people, not even by a community of American Roman Catholic people. The title of ownership in a public school is vested in the local community, in the elected officers of the school board or the city council. But the title of ownership in a parochial school is vested in the bishop as an individual, who is appointed by, who is under the direct control of, and who reports to the pope in Rome.4
4 This paragraph was quoted by justices Douglas, Black, and Marshall in a dissenting opinion as the Supreme Court of the United States, on June 28, 1971, by the narrow margin of 5 to 4, held constitutional the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, which permits within certain limits the granting of federal funds to church-related colleges and universities.
Another contrast is that in the public school the selection of a faculty and the administration of the school usually rests with a school board which is subject to election and recall by the voters, but in the parochial school the selection of a faculty and the administration of the school is in the hands of the bishop alone, and usually is administered through the local priest. If a faculty member in the public school believes that he has been treated unjustly in being disciplined or dismissed, he can seek redress through the civil court and he is guaranteed a hearing. But if a faculty member in a parochial school is disciplined or dismissed he has no recourse whatsoever. The word of the bishop or priest is final, even without explanation if he so chooses. The taxpayers have a voice in the way their money is used in the public school, but the people who support a parochial school have no voice at all in such affairs.
The argument is often made that Roman Catholic parents are the victims of double taxation since they pay the regular levy for public schools and also the cost of the parochial schools. But it is hardly accurate to call this double taxation. They pay the regular levy as does everyone else, and they have the privilege of sending their children to the public school. There is no discrimination against them. But if instead they choose to use the parochial school where the principal course is Roman Catholic polity and doctrine, that is their privilege, and they should be willing to pay for it. That is entirely a matter between them and their church. If they have any protest it should be made to their priest or bishop who orders them to build and maintain such a school. The other side of the picture, of course, is that if those of us who pay taxes to support the public schools are also required to support the Roman Catholic schools, that would constitute a double burden on us.
Furthermore, many people who have no children at all, or whose children are not ready for school or are past school age, are also required to pay the regular levy. And usually they do so gladly as a service to the community. If the Roman Catholic objection were valid, then only those families who have children in the public school should be required to pay the school tax, and they should pay in proportion to the number of children they have in school.
To use a simple illustration: Suppose the state builds a road. It is paid for with state funds. It is open to the public, and anyone may use it. But if another group does not like the public road and wants to build their own private road parallel to the public road, they may do so. But they have no right to expect the rest of us to pay for it. It is their road. Let them pay for it or use the public road.
In the United States we have “freedom of religion.” In many other nations the people do not enjoy this high privilege. But freedom of religion has always had a price tag attached to it: Pay the bill.
Let us have public funds for public causes and private funds for private causes, whether it be for roads, schools, libraries, swimming pools, or anything else. And let Roman Catholics remember that in their country of Spain they do not allow Protestants to have private schools even though the latter would gladly pay all the costs.
The Detroit News has commented concerning the school problem:
“All the states decree… that all children shall be educated at public expense because an educated citizenry is essential to our form of government. … No one is being taxed for the education of his own children; all are being taxed for the education of everyone’s children, to everyone’s ultimate benefit. They decree as well that what the community pays for on such a vast scale it must control. … Like it or not, that is what our state constitutions provide. No child is a ‘second class citizen,’ for no child is barred from these schools.”
Cardinal Spellman recently demanded that federal aid for education be extended to parochial as well as public schools, and argued that the government would be guilty of “coercion” and “discrimination” if it denied federal funds to Catholic schools. This was promptly and effectively answered by Glenn L. Archer, who said:
“Actually the government would be guilty of coercion and discrimination if it compelled the 140 million non‑Catholic people of the United States to pay for schools which are maintained primarily to promote the doctrines of one church. … The Catholic people of the United States have been offered free access to the schools of all the people without religious discrimination. If they choose under the pressure of their bishops to decline this invitation, they should not ask the taxpayers to pay the bill for their own separation” (The Evening Star, Washington, D. C., January 19, 1961).
If the Romanists achieve a breakthrough at the parochial school level, it can be confidently expected that that will be followed by demands for bigger and better Hill‑Burton Hospital Construction Acts, G. I. Bills with generous tuition grants to sectarian schools, National Defense Education Acts, and, in the not too distant future, sectarian political parties and candidates at state and local levels.
Under our American system of separation of church and state, all Protestant churches have financed their own projects by voluntary gifts from their adherents. The Roman Catholic Church should be willing to do the same. It is manifestly unfair for it to claim federal and state subsidies for its private projects. If such appropriations were granted, then Protestants, in proportion to their numbers, should receive similar appropriations, to be used in their church programs as they see fit. But Protestants do not want such help, and in most cases do not take it even if it is available. They are opposed on principle to government support for any denomination.
On repeated occasions in recent years programs providing for federal aid to education have been blocked by Roman Catholic spokesmen because parochial schools were not included. Whether federal aid to education is in itself a wise or an unwise policy we do not here attempt to say, although we think that as a general rule educational problems can be handled more economically and more efficiently by local communities or at most with state aid. But in any event the fact of the matter is that throughout the nation more than half of all Roman Catholic children attend public schools. Roman Catholics are represented on school boards, often out of proportion to their numbers in the community. And the percentage of Roman Catholic teachers in public schools often is in excess of their proportion in the community. So they are benefiting quite materially from our public school system.
The argument that the parochial school saves the community money is also largely false. In the first place, the community does not ask the Roman Church to aid in this matter. Secondly, the Roman Church develops such schools, not as an aid to the community, not to teach American principles of citizenship, but strictly to serve its own purpose. And thirdly, many people would rather pay the tax to provide an adequate and unprejudiced education for all of the young people than to experience the divisions and rivalries that almost invariably result from such schools. Usually they feel that the Roman Church is doing the community a disservice in restricting the children to the kind of training that they receive in the parochial schools.
Something is to be learned by observing the school situation in Britain, which is quite different from that in the United States. The British government has agreed to provide up to 75 percent of the funds needed for the building and maintenance of Anglican and Roman Catholic schools, and up to 95 percent of certain other school expenses. But even so the hierarchy is not satisfied. It is demanding complete financial equality with the public schools. In France, under President De Gaulle, a Roman Catholic, the Roman hierarchy, early in 1960, precipitated a governmental crisis by demanding full school aid without governmental supervision, and with De Gaulle’s assistance received most of what it asked for. The ideal toward which the Roman Church strives is found in Spain where, under a concordat with the Vatican, the schools are financed by the government while the Roman Church supervises the curriculum, selects the teachers, and directs the administration of the schools. Protestant schools are prohibited. Why should anyone believe that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States would be satisfied with anything less?
An interesting light is thrown on this problem of state and federal aid to parochial schools in a recent issue of Church and State magazine. Under the title, Do They Need The Money?, we read:
“The spectacle of the hierarchy of the mighty Roman Catholic Church pleading poverty is one to give us pause. This church is, by its own admission, the largest and wealthiest of all Christian bodies. It is literally richer than Croesus.
“The Roman Church has assets so vast that it has never dared to make a public report of them. This is the organization which now comes pleading that it must have Federal grants or credit if it is to carry on. …
“The credit rating of the Buffalo diocese provides financial information about the Roman Church that is rarely disclosed. The Church’s assets in this one diocese alone are placed at $236,000,000. Its average gross income is $24½ million. Taking the Buffalo membership of 860,000 in ratio with the claimed total American membership of 40 million, a total wealth close to 11 billion is indicated.
“When one adds to this the income producing potential of the 40 million contributors of Roman Catholic faith, we are confronted with a financial power that can be discussed in the same breath with the United States government itself. This is the organization which claims to stand in desperate need of government aid. … Why does the hierarchy insist on Federal aid to its denominational schools? We think we know the reason. And that reason is not financial” (May, 1961).
A more recent and exhaustive study of the finances of American churches is The Churches: Their Riches, Revenues, and Immunities, by Martin A. Larson and C. Stanley Lowell (301 pages; 1969. Robert B. Luce, Inc., Washington, D.C.). The wealthiest church by far is the Roman Catholic, with assets, largely hidden, approximately as follows: Stocks, Bonds, Investment Real Estate, $13 billion; Business Property, $12 billion; Personal Property, $900 million; Religiously used real estate, $54 billion; total, about $80 billion. Much of that is held by the various orders, which number 521. Annual Estimated Income is: Contributions, $5 billion; Business, $1 billion 200 million; Dividends, Interest, $650 million; Wills, Community Chest Funds, Bingo, etc., $1 billion 500 million; total, over $8 billion—largely immune from income tax. To that must be added a bewildering series of government projects funded in part through the churches and which in effect are subsidies, such as the Hill‑Burton Hospital Act, Higher Education Facilities Act, Vocational Education Act, Economic Opportunities Act, Research Programs, Distribution of Foreign Aid, and many others—total, over $4 billion.
What vast holdings and reserves those are, particularly when the spiritual and material needs of so many even of their own Roman Catholic people in many parts of the world are so great! Their expenses for parochial schools have scarcely touched that reservoir of wealth. Some Protestant churches also have wealth beyond their needs. But most evangelical churches maintain a fairly close balance between income and expenses, and many are seriously handicapped by lack of funds.
Education in Romanist Dominated Countries
It is not by accident that the people in countries that have been dominated by Roman Catholicism for centuries have an abnormally high percentage of illiteracy. Some 50 percent of the Portuguese cannot read or write. Spain, which is the most Roman Catholic nation in Europe, is also the most backward and has the lowest standard of living of any nation in Europe. In Italy illiteracy is high, and Roman Catholic domination of education has been so oppressive that it has been almost impossible to establish even a primary school apart from the Roman Church. In Mexico, Central and South America, where the Roman Church has been dominant and practically without religious competition for four hundred years, the illiteracy rate until very recently was from 30 to 60 percent and in some places as high as 70 percent. Brazil, for instance, with 58 million people has more than 30 million who are illiterate. Only 42 percent of the people of Colombia, according to a government survey, can read and write, and most of those have not had schooling beyond the fourth grade. In Canada the Roman Catholic province of Quebec has lagged far behind the other provinces in education. Even primary education was not compulsory in Quebec until 1943. A program is now under way to remedy the lamentable conditions that were exposed by Life magazine in the issue of October 19, 1942. Throughout these countries we see the practice, so typical of all Roman Catholic countries, of gathering large sums of money for the building of magnificent cathedrals to overawe the people and for the enrichment of the priesthood, while leaving the people in indescribable ignorance and poverty.
Through the centuries the Roman Catholic Church has found that illiterate and superstitious people are much more obedient to her rule, and until she was forced by Protestant competition to make a change, her deliberate policy seems to have been designed to keep them in that condition. But thanks to the mission work that has been carried on in Latin America and to the generally enlightening influences that have come from the Protestant nations, the illiteracy rate in that area is now decreasing. Nevertheless the record of the Roman Church in Latin America remains one of miserable and undeniable failure so far as the general enlightenment of the people is concerned, and Rome must take full responsibility for that condition. Many of her leading men in the governing classes and many of her priests have been distinguished for learning and logical skill, for “knowledge is power.” But she has not entrusted that knowledge to the masses of her followers. Instead, she has reserved it for her office holders that they might use it to her advantage. It is important to keep in mind that the Roman Catholic Church the world over is one solid, monolithic organization, all closely knit and under the absolute power of the pope in Rome, and that the same pope who appoints all of the cardinals and bishops in the United States also appoints all of the cardinals and bishops in Latin America, and that the church, working through the hierarchy in Rome, has perfect freedom to send men and money and to promote or to refrain from promoting schools in any area under its control.
In Protestant countries the Roman Church has been driven, partly by shame and partly by a spirit of rivalry, to follow quite a different policy from that in Latin America. In the United States, which already possessed the most efficient system of universal education to be found anywhere in the world and where we might suppose that a parochial system was least needed, the Roman Church has been prompted to engage in extensive educational work. Much the same policy has been followed in Britain. In these countries her people cannot be kept in darkness, and she is forced to minister to them or lose them. In these countries her people are demanding high schools and colleges, and she is giving them what she does not give her people in Spain or Italy or Latin America.
In the United States she has established hundreds of hospitals, colleges, and various special institutions such as Dismas House in St. Louis, and Boys Town in Nebraska (built to a considerable extent with money solicited indiscriminately from Protestants). But we do not find comparable institutions in the typical Roman Catholic countries. Hence we must to a considerable extent label these “showcase religion,” designed to meet Protestant competition.
To discover what a system really is, what its true fruits are, we must look at countries where it is fully established and where it has been in operation for long periods of time. And when we apply that test to the Roman system we find the invariable products—ignorance, superstition, poverty, and immorality.
10 The Christian School
Many Christian people are disturbed because the Bible cannot be read and Christianity cannot be taught in the public schools, and because in many instances the texts used present an anti‑Christian viewpoint. This condition in the schools represents a radical departure from that which prevailed in the early days of our country and which in fact was common until comparatively recent times. The state, however, is a secular institution, and in a free society such as ours in which church and state are separate, the state cannot promote any particular religion in its tax supported and politically controlled schools. Hence it follows that whenever the government undertakes to provide education, whether at the local, state, or national level, it tends to secularize the schools. The result is that today most of the schools tend to ignore the subject of religion with many of them assuming a completely secular attitude, as if God did not exist, while others are actually irreligious, teaching an evolutionary philosophy in a man‑centered world.
One of the privileges enjoyed by the people of the United States is that of establishing and operating private or parochial schools if they so wish. This right has been affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. While we strongly disapprove of the parochial school as conducted by the Roman Catholic Church, there is another type of school designed to provide a Christian atmosphere and course of instruction of which we approve most heartily. This is generally known as the “Christian School.” It is supported and controlled not by a church or by a group of churches, but by an organization of Christian parents in the local community. It is usually interdenominational in nature, designed to serve the children of all of the evangelical churches in the community and such others as are given permission to attend. Since no church has any official connection with the project no compulsion is put upon any families in those churches to send their children to the Christian school if they prefer the public school.
The first schools in America were private, usually in the homes or in the churches. Often they were organized and taught by the local minister as a service to the community. The Bible was the most important book studied, sometimes almost the only book. As it came to be realized how valuable such training was, the local communities, and later the states, took over the work, broadened the course of study, and in time such education was made universal and compulsory.
We believe that Christian training is the most important thing in a child’s life. Responsibility for such training rests first of all upon the parents in the home. Early in the Old Testament the command was given that there should be oral teaching of the Scriptures in the home by the parents: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). The command is that the home shall be literally saturated with the Word of God.
But because many parents are so poorly equipped to give that training, perhaps never having had it themselves, it is a very great blessing if it can be given in the schools. The ideal situation would be a Christian state in which true Bible teaching could be given as a part of the regular school course. But that condition does not now prevail, and it cannot be realized in the foreseeable future.
While we insist that there must be separation of church and state, that does not mean that we acknowledge any area of life in which Christianity should not play a dominant role. It only means that it is better that neither the government nor the schools should be dominated by any religion than that they should be dominated by a false religion, better that they not aid any religion than that they aid a false religion. Due to the fact that in the United States most communities are composed of Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, and other minority groups, in order not to offend any the public schools are forbidden by law to give any type of religious training.
But it is not enough merely to educate children in the arts and sciences. They must also be trained in things relating to the spirit if they are to fulfill their true mission in life. To leave religion out of the curriculum is to omit the most important subject, and tends to give students the impression that religion is of little value or importance.
In order to meet this need various plans have been suggested. One is that in the public schools a certain number of Scripture verses be read each day without comment, followed perhaps by the Lord’s prayer or some other suitable prayer. But such teaching can only be most elementary. And a further difficulty arises as to which version of the Bible should be used, and to whom or in whose name the prayer should be offered. Another plan that has met with fairly wide support is that of “released time,” in which perhaps once each week the children are excused for a part of the school period in order to attend Christian training classes usually held in their own churches. The Supreme Court, in a case brought before it in 1952, gave the legal “go ahead” to released time religious classes, provided they are not held on school property. In accordance with that ruling approximately 4,000,000 children of all faiths are released from the public schools each week to attend such classes.
This latter plan, however, still leaves much to be desired, particularly if other courses in the school are taught from a non‑Christian or anti-Christian viewpoint. Much the best plan, we believe, is that of the Protestant Christian school. For that purpose an organization of Christian parents builds or leases its own buildings, hires its own teachers, teaches in general the same courses and seeks to meet the same academic standards as does the public school. Such schools may include only the grades, or the high school, or both. All courses are taught from the Christian viewpoint. And in addition they also have courses in Bible study, in which the Bible is presented as the inspired and authoritative Word of God.
But the question naturally arises: Can the “private” school survive? The answer is: Yes, it can, if the people of a community are genuinely interested in its success. In numerous communities such schools are proving remarkably successful. The Christian Reformed Church, with headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has done much to promote this type of school. We need only point out that for long ages it was generally thought that the churches in the various countries could not survive if they were cut off from state funds. But in those nations in which they have been “dis‑established” they have gained new vitality and perspective and have prospered much more than where they still are dependent on state aid. In like manner Christian schools can be productive of true scholarship and can develop with more freedom and originality if Christian people take their work seriously. R. J. Rushdoony, who has made a special study of this problem, points out that, “The school society, as a voluntary organization, operates on a radically more economical basis than the public school in building, operational, administrative, and maintenance costs. On this basis it can still produce superior results” (Intellectual Schizophrenia, p. 24; The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Philadelphia, 1961. )
The hundreds of Protestant colleges with their splendid buildings and large endowment funds show what Protestant people can do when they set their minds to it. Such schools have rendered a most valuable service over the years.
There are valid reasons for establishing Christian schools at the elementary and high school levels. First of all there is the teaching of Christian truth and the building of Christian character. That, of course, can be done much more effectively in schools in which the Bible is honored rather than in those in which it is ignored or even attacked and ridiculed. In the second place a dedicated Christian faculty leaves an indelible impression on the lives and characters of the students who attend such schools. And in the third place fellowship with other students whose background and purpose in life is Christian does much to inspire students to better ways of living.
Ministers and laymen usually find a place in such schools as principals, teachers, and members of the school boards. Many teachers prefer the atmosphere of the Christian school to that of the public school. And the evangelical churches of a community usually give moral and sometimes financial support, although as churches they have no control over the schools. But if we demand federal or state aid merely to compensate for our own lack of conviction, such schools probably will not manifest much Christian zeal. Let no man be compelled to pay for another man’s religion. That only arouses resentment, and it cannot accomplish any lasting good. Certainly the world will never take seriously our professed concern for Christian education if our Christian schools have to be maintained at public expense.
It should be emphasized that the Christian school is not designed to operate as a rival of the public school but rather to cooperate with it in a friendly way for the benefit of the entire community. It was never the wish of the Protestant churches that Bible reading and Christian training should be excluded from the public school. But the fact must be faced that that condition now exists, and that remedial measures are needed. We insist that the public school with its secular viewpoint must not claim the right to teach every child under all conditions, nor the exclusive right to teach any child—that education is primarily the responsibility of the parents, and that the parents may provide that education privately if they wish.
(For assistance in starting and operating Christian schools contact: National Union of Christian Schools, 865 28th St., S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49508.)
By What Moral Standard?
1. Basic Principles
6. The Roman Church and the U. S. Prison Population
7. Questionable Hospital Practices
One of the strong contrasts between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism is found in the moral codes which distinguish the two systems. In Protestantism this code is taken directly from the Bible. Nothing can be laid on men as a moral requirement unless it can be shown to be contained in the Bible. Such requirements thereby become a matter of conscience for the Christian.
But in Roman Catholicism the moral code is based primarily on Canon Law and only secondarily on the Bible, and in the main is imposed on the person from without. The authority of the church as interpreted by the priest is what counts. The result is that the Roman Church has developed a standard of morality that is designed, not to stir the conscience, but to maintain papal power. Many of the dogmas and rites of Romanism are antagonistic to the teachings of Scripture and directly or indirectly conducive to immorality. Drinking, gambling, and other habits considered as vices by Protestants are not counted as evil by Romanists except when indulged in to excess.
In the study of morals the Roman Church takes the teachings of the theologian Alphonsus Liguori as authoritative. Liguori was canonized among the saints in heaven by the pronouncement of Pope Gregory XVI, in 1839, and was declared a doctor of the universal Roman Church by Pope Pius IX. Thomas Carlyle, the famous British author, who said that the Jesuits had “poisoned the well springs of truth,” wrote concerning Liguori:
“More terrible still is the ‘moral theology’ of Alphonsus Liguori, who is counted a saint and ‘doctor’ of the Church—of equal rank with Augustine, Chrysostom and others—whose textbooks are standard on moral questions in all Roman Catholic seminaries. The ‘moral’ teachings of Liguori, if they could be read in their original Latin, would fill every right‑minded person with horror. For there he outlines the ways in which falsehood can be used without really telling a lie; the ways in which the property of others can be taken without stealing how the Ten Commandments can be broken without committing deadly sin.”
Samples of Liguori’s “moral” teaching are:
“A servant is allowed to help his master to climb a window to commit fornication” (St. Alphonsus, 1, 22, 66).
“It is not a mortal sin to get drunk, unless one loses completely the use of his mental faculties for over one hour” (1, 5, 75).
“It is lawful to violate penal laws” [hunting, fishing, etc.].
“It is asked whether prostitutes are to be permitted. … They are to be permitted because, as a distinguished priest says, ‘Remove prostitutes from the world, and all things will be disordered with lust.’ Hence in large cities, prostitutes may be permitted” (3, 434).
In this connection it is interesting to note that legalized prostitution was not abolished in the city of Rome, the very city which is headquarters of the Roman Church, until September, 1958, and that even today almost every city of any size in South America has its legalized houses of prostitution. Dr. Walter Montano, returning from a conference of Protestant leaders in Colombia, reported that, according to information given him, the city of Cali, which has a population of 520,000, has 2,600 houses of prostitution and 13,000 registered prostitutes. He adds that the Roman Catholic Church in that country has done practically nothing to lift the morality of the people or to bring a solution to the country’s problems (Christian Heritage, February, 1960).
Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), another famous teacher in the Roman Church and founder of the Jesuit order which today so largely controls Roman Catholic policy, wrote some rules for his order which he commended as conducive to complete obedience and as a “help in attaining the right attitude toward the Church.” One of them reads:
“Laying aside all private judgment the spirit must be always ready to obey the true doctrine and therefore, if anything shall appear white to our eyes which the Church has defined as black, we likewise must declare it to be black. … If you receive from your superior a command which appears to go against your own judgment, your own conviction, or your own well-being, then you must fall on your knees, putting off all human principles and considerations and renew, when you are alone, your vow of obedience.”
In accordance with this it is not uncommon in the Roman church to refer to one as a “good priest” if he does his work efficiently, even though it may be known that his moral character is bad. He is a “good priest” in the same sense that one may be a “good doctor,” or a “good mechanic,” entirely apart from his moral character. Under such a standard obedience to the church becomes the supreme virtue and takes precedence even over conscience. But for the Protestant such action does not make sense. The Protestant can not force his will to believe that which he knows to be irrational, nor his conscience to approve that which he knows to be wrong.
We do not need to belabor the point that the Roman Catholic Church fights almost every movement throughout the nation that is designed to restrict the use of alcoholic liquors. The big cities, in which the Roman Catholic population is concentrated, are notoriously “wet.” The three things that appeal most to the weakness of human nature and that bring large profits to those who control them, are drinking, gambling, and prostitution. Protestants are often regarded as “killjoys,” because they oppose even a limited license for any of these. The Roman Church, however, holds that drinking and gambling are not sinful in themselves, but that they become so only when carried to excess. And who is to say at what point they become excessive? Why, the priest, of course. It is he who, in the confessional, decides for Roman Catholics at what point a man or woman is to be considered as drinking to excess, and how much may be spent on gambling without committing a sin.
A case in point occurred in Steubenville, Ohio, in the fall of 1946. It was public knowledge that drunkenness, gambling, and prostitution were rampant in that city and that a “clean up” was needed. A group of Protestant ministers undertook the job. But the Roman Catholic bishop openly opposed the cleanup and issued a pastoral letter to be read in all of his churches, condemning the campaign of the ministers. According to The New York Times of November 28, of that year, the bishop called the ministers “narrow little people,” and declared that “Drinking and gambling are not in themselves sinful or evil.” The bishop then proceeded to lecture the ministers on the proper interpretation of the Christian moral code as follows: “These so‑called leaders simply do not know the moral structure of Christianity. As a result they make themselves pitiable objects in a community.” A Steubenville judge, apparently under the bishop’s influence, backed him up and condemned the ministers as “fanatics insistent upon senseless arrests” (L. H. Lehmann, booklet, The Secret of Catholic Power, p. 7).
We have called attention to the De La Salle Institute, at Napa, California, which is only one of several church owned properties in the United States producing commercial wine or brandy or both.
According to Liguori, a Roman Catholic can lie. Says he:
“Notwithstanding, indeed, although it is not lawful to lie, or to feign what is not, however, it is lawful to dissemble what is, or to cover the truth with words, or other ambiguous and doubtful signs, for a just cause, and when there is not a necessity for confessing. These things being settled, it is a certain and a common opinion among all divines, that for a just cause it is lawful to use equivocation in the modes propounded and to confirm it [equivocation] with an oath” (Less. 1, 2, c. 41).
The right to hold a “mental reservation” is claimed by Roman theologians. The Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, on which Roman theology relies so heavily, says that when the interests of Holy Mother Church require it, one may make a statement while holding a mental reservation which qualifies it into nullity.
The Roman Catholic Dictionary, 15th edition, published in London, in 1951, with the imprimatur of the cardinal of Westminster, under the subject Oath, says that the Roman Church has the right to dispense anyone from the provision of an oath: “Though generally speaking, no earthly power can dispense from keeping an oath made in favor of another, still in other cases a dispensation may be valid.”
Under Canon Law 1320 the pope can dispense from any oath (see the authoritative book, Canon Law: Text and Commentary , by Bouscaren and Ellis, p. 679). A Roman Catholic judge who obtains a papal dispensation in order to violate his judicial oath in case of conflict between church law and civil law is considered blameless by the Roman Catholic theologians. The most notable examples of papal release from oaths were the attempt of Pope Pius V, in 1570, to “uncrown” Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, of England, by releasing her court officials and all subjects from civil allegiance to her—which attempt failed because the British people in the main remained loyal to their queen—and the attempt of Pope Gregory VII to depose Henry IV of Germany, which attempt succeeded to the extent that Henry was forced to do obeisance to the pope, although he later regained his power and drove the pope out of Rome.
The principle to which the Roman Church resorts in freeing men from their oaths is that it does so in obedience to a “higher law.” On the grounds that no man can justly bind himself to do that which is sinful, the church may decide that an oath of allegiance to a ruler who is disobedient to the pope, or a pledge made to a “heretic,” is sinful and need not be kept.
It is Roman Catholic doctrine that the conscience is subject to the teaching of the church and is to be determined by that teaching rather than by private judgment. A pledge made during a political campaign, or an oath of office, is secondary to Canon Law. A Roman candidate for office may declare himself in favor of separation of church and state, or against federal and state aid to parochial schools. But even though he does so in all good conscience, the Roman Church teaches that in the final analysis his conscience must be governed by and be subject to its authority.
Edwin F. Healy, in his book, Moral Guidance, published by the Loyola University Press, declares: “A promise under oath to do something sinful does not bind at all.” The Roman Church sets itself up as the judge to determine what things are sinful; hence an oath to perform some action that is later judged to be against the best interests of that church may be abrogated by a Roman Catholic office holder. What the church holds to be right, e.g., things which promote its welfare, restrict heretics, etc., are judged to be right. When personal judgment of conscience conflicts with the dictates of the church, personal judgment must be set aside. We have seen this principle set forth by Loyola for the members of his Jesuit order. The same general principle holds throughout the Roman Church.
Under the subject of mental reservation Healy says:
“For sufficient reason we may thus permit others to deceive themselves by taking the wrong meaning of what is said; and this remains true though the listener, because of his ignorance, does not know that there is another meaning to the word that is employed.”
In other words, a Roman Catholic is not necessarily bound to the strict form of the words spoken. If the person to whom a promise is made, or before whom an oath is taken, does not know that the one making it may attach a different meaning to the words, that is his fault, and the promise or oath is not necessarily binding.
In regard to theft, Liguori teaches that a Roman Catholic may steal, provided the value of the thing stolen is not excessive. He says:
“If any one on an occasion should steal only a moderate sum either from one or more, not intending to acquire any notable sum, neither to injure his neighbor to any great extent, by several thefts, he does not sin grievously, nor do those, taken together, constitute a mortal sin. However, after it may have amounted to a notable sum by detaining it, he can commit mortal sin, but even this mortal sin may be avoided, if either then he be unable to restore, or have the intention of making restitution immediately of those things which he then received” (Vol. 3, p. 258).
This doctrine has been interpreted for American Roman Catholics to mean that it is not a mortal sin if one steals less than $40.00 worth at any one time. Msgr. Francis J. Connell writes as follows in The American Ecclesiastical Review, official magazine of instruction for priests, published at Catholic University, Washington, D.C.
“Question: What would be regarded nowadays as the absolute sum for grave theft in the United States?
“Answer: By the absolute sum for grave theft is meant that amount of money, the stealing of which constitutes a mortal sin, irrespective of the financial status of the individual or corporation from which it is taken, however wealthy they may be. Naturally this sum varies with the fluctuation of the value, or the purchasing power, of money. In a country like ours it is quite possible that this sum might be different in different sections. To lay down a general norm, in view of actual conditions and the value of money, it would seem that the absolute sum for grave theft would be about $40.00” (January, 1945, p. 68).
The condoning of theft and robbery under certain circumstances is known among Roman Catholic theologians as “secret compensation,” and is contained in catechisms and textbooks used in Roman Catholic schools. In The Manual of Christian Doctrine, which has gone through many editions, and which bears the nihil obstat of M. S. Fisher, S.T.L., censor librorum, and the imprimatur of Cardinal Dougherty of Philadelphia, the Preface states: “This book is intended as a manual of religious instruction not only in the novitiate and scholasticate of teaching congregations, but also in the classes of high schools, academies and colleges.” On page 295 this textbook discusses the problem of theft, its nature and various forms, including larceny, robbery, cheating, fraud, and extortion, and on page 297 we find theft condoned in the following words:
“Q. What are the causes that excuse from theft?
“A. 1. Extreme necessity, when a person takes only what is necessary, and does not thereby reduce to the same necessity the person whose property he takes. 2. Secret compensation, on condition that the debt so cancelled be certain that the creditor cannot recover his property by any other means, and that he take as far as possible, things of the same kind as he had given.”
L. H. Lehmann comments very appropriately on such conduct:
“Moral conduct can be no better than the moral principles upon which it is based. Most crimes are distinctly connected with thievery and robbery. If a Roman Catholic youth, for instance, can persuade himself that he has ‘extreme necessity’ for an automobile, he will consider himself justified in stealing it legitimately according to the above teaching, provided he knows that the owner will not be thereby impoverished. The doctrine of ‘secret compensation’ applies mostly to employees who consider they are being underpaid for their labor. A twenty‑dollar‑a‑week cashier in a side street cafeteria may consider herself underpaid and apply this principle to justify her pilfering of odd dimes and quarters from the cash register whenever she can safely do so. Many a cashier in a large bank or commercial business corporation has done just this until he found himself in jail for large‑scale embezzlement. A desperate man could also easily argue himself into thinking that he is justly entitled to some of the surplus money of a rich victim and will go after it with a gun. Likewise grafting politicians seize upon the argument implicit in this teaching to justify their conviction that they are worth much more to the community than their elected offices pay them. [And it surely does not take much imagination to guess how this principle might be applied by judges and clerks whose duty it is to count votes at the polling places. Just how many votes might be stolen in order to aid one’s candidate without committing mortal sin? We should like to know.]
“This doctrine of ‘secret compensation’ was, of course, unheard of in Christianity, even in the Catholic Church, prior to the Jesuit casuists of the seventeenth century. It was invented by them along with other unethical doctrines such as ‘mental reservation,’ ‘the end justifies the means,’ ‘the end sanctifies the means,’ etc., to make Catholicism popular among the masses. It also helped to rationalize their own exploits. Thus Catholic textbooks of moral theology today make no pretention of showing that these principles of conduct take their origin from the Ten Commandments or from Christian revelation. They merely propound them as accepted Catholic doctrine and trace them back to Gury, the Jesuit fountainhead. …
“The blunt fact, confirmed by countless cases, is that many Catholics get the one idea from this teaching, namely that stealing is not essentially evil at all times, but, on the contrary, fair and reasonable if one needs something badly enough and the owner does not. How this conviction can be stretched to cover untold cases is easy to imagine. It is limited only by the envy and self‑prejudice of the individual circumstances—which varies immeasurably from person to person.
“All in all, it is most unfortunate that any religion is permitted to teach such a principle as part of the curriculum of American school education, much more if it should ever be taught in the public schools on the pretext of helping to lessen crime among the youth of America” (booklet, Catholic Education and Crime).
Another very serious defect in the moral armor of Roman Catholicism is its penchant for games of chance, particularly its strong defense of bingo as played in the churches, which, in whatever light it may be viewed, is a form of gambling. The primary feature about gambling, bingo, raffles, etc., is that each is a game of chance in which the ownership of money or some other article of value is decided by a lucky number, a turn of a wheel, a throw of the dice, or some such device. And gambling is gambling, no matter what form it takes. Basically, it is an attempt to get something for nothing, an attempt to live not by honest toil but at the expense of others. As such it is a moral disease, a covetous greed or lust to get possession of what another has. Just because other equally covetous people agree to the arrangement does not make it moral. Even when a gambler wins he realizes that others have lost. Anything that induces people to take money needed for food and clothing and risk it on games of chance is wrong in principle. And the “easy come, easy go” principle involved seldom leaves anyone permanently enriched. It is notorious that gamblers almost invariably end up broke. And usually bingo, under the guise of charity for a church or school, is an opening wedge for the more professional types of gambling. But whether gambling takes the form of bingo, raffles, lucky numbers, or the more outright forms with dice, cards, or roulette, it surely is unworthy of a Christian, who should always be ready to give a comparable value in return for what he seeks.
The fact that the article may not be of great value, and that the “chances” cost only a few cents each, does not change the principle involved, nor make it right to participate. The principle is the same and the practice is sinful whether one gambles for thousands of dollars at roulette or whether he participates in the raffle of a $1 box of candy for “chances” sold at 5 cents each. Sin remains sin, whether committed outside the church or inside. The righteous robes of religion do not cover it up in the sight of God.
Historically, organized gambling has meant organized crime. Recently a top federal prosecutor, Malcolm Anderson, assistant U. S. attorney general in charge of the criminal division of the Justice Department, speaking before the National Association of Attorneys General, declared that gambling is the life-blood of organized crime, and that if gambling could be wiped out syndicated crime would die for lack of sustenance. Organized gambling flourishes in a twilight zone of society where the muscle man is boss and where threats, coercion, and corruption are the methods of doing business. An evil atmosphere envelopes such a community and eats into the fabric of law and order. Bribery and corruption of officials with attendant social abuses is a common result. Yet the Roman Church, which receives substantial revenues from gambling games, has not only failed to oppose legalized gambling but frequently has itself run afoul of state anti‑gambling laws. On the other hand Protestant groups, which believe that it is a sin to gamble, have taken the lead in a great many places and have succeeded in having bingo, and particularly professional gambling, outlawed. In the bingo‑pinball devices commonly found in taverns, the millions of nickels flow into millions of dollars. Usually these devices return the tavern owners 50 percent of the take, and the operators greedily reach for the profits. So the foundation for the underworld is built.
Gambling is a violation of one of God’s first commands to man: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:19). It is also a violation of other Scripture commands and of the general spirit of Scripture teaching: “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15); “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17); “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 19:19); “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not?” (Isaiah 55:2). “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31); etc.
The ideal constantly held before us in Scripture is that we should earn our property by honest labor and fair exchange. To try to give gambling an aura of respectability, and even a certain kind of spirituality through church sponsorship, is at once a sign of spiritual degeneration and of abysmal ignorance or deliberate disregard of what the Scriptures really teach.
In 1958 the state of New York legalized bingo by a constitutional amendment, primarily because of pressure brought to bear by the Roman Catholic Church and a few other groups. A news dispatch from Albany, New York, May 31, 1960, reported that New York residents had spent more than 40 million dollars playing bingo since the game was legalized. It added that the state lottery control commission reported that of that total, 29 million was returned to the players in the form of prizes and that the non‑profit sponsoring organizations retained 9 million.1
1 In the year 1966 the gross from bingo in New York State was mere than 93 million dollars, with 53 million returned to the players and 24 million profit to the sponsoring organizations.
Bingo is illegal in Pennsylvania. Interestingly enough, the magazine Church and State, April, 1960, carried this report: “Philadelphia police have stepped up their campaign against bingo games in Roman Catholic churches. Latest to feel the hand of the law were St. Agatha’s and Church of the Gesu. … St. Agatha’s budget is $90,000 a year; $50,000 has come from bingo.” Interesting, too, is the fact that Pennsylvania’s long ban on legalized gambling was broken in December, 1959, when the Roman Catholic governor signed a bill which permitted betting on harness races, subject to county option. An outright ban on bingo‑pinball in Ohio was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1958. And the United States Post Office Department has ruled that the game of bingo is a lottery and that as such it cannot be promoted through the mails. The mailing of periodicals or circulars containing advance notice of lotteries is banned under postal regulations. Postal officials have ruled that bingo has all the classic elements of a game of chance as set forth in the Supreme Court’s lottery definition, and, though legal in some states, the state laws do not affect the federal laws under which the department operates.
If there ever was a travesty on the Christian religion it is that of a church raising money by encouraging its people to engage in a form of gambling. Such practice cannot give stability to a church, and the effect on its spiritual and educational program is bound to be detrimental. Morally it is no better than was the sale of indulgences during the Middle Ages, which was one of the religious corruptions that brought about the Protestant Reformation.
6 The Roman Church and the U. S. Prison Population
When we mention prison statistics it must be acknowledged, of course, that men and women in all denominations occasionally go wrong, that no denomination is above criticism, and that good and bad people are found in all denominations. There are, however, certain points of contrast between the Roman and the Protestant churches, points which, we believe, arise primarily because of their different moral codes.
Various studies indicate that of the white prison population Roman Catholics constitute a higher percentage than do those of any other church operating on the American scene, and that while the Roman Catholic percentage in the general population is about 22 percent, their percentage in the jails and penitentiaries and in juvenile delinquency is approximately twice that.
An examination of the crime records of any large city in the United States shows that the gangster type criminal turns out with surprising frequency to be Roman Catholic or to have a Roman Catholic background. The Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Correction of the State of New York, for the years 1940 through 1946, shows that a consistent 50 percent of the criminals committed to New York’s two largest prisons, Sing Sing and Dannemora, year after year, were Roman Catholic, while the Roman Catholic population in the state was approximately 27 percent. An analysis of criminal records in Sing Sing, which was made by a Roman Catholic chaplain and published in the magazine Commonweal, December 14, 1932, revealed that of a total of 1,581 prisoners no less than 855 were Roman Catholics.
Emmett McLoughlin says concerning his work in Phoenix, Arizona:
“As chaplain of the local jail, I was shocked at the percentage of Roman Catholics among the unwilling guests. Wondering if the same incidence prevailed in other jails and penitentiaries, I found a study written by a Franciscan, the Roman Catholic chaplain of Joliet Penitentiary in Illinois. He discovered that the Catholic percentage among prisoners in America is about twice their percentage in the total population.
“If the Roman Catholic Church is the mother of learning and of holiness, how could this be? Priests answer that these prisoners and gangsters do not represent American Catholicism but mostly Irish, Polish, Italian, Spanish, and Mexican—unfortunate immigrants from backward countries. This is the stock answer to the question of Roman Catholic crime and illiteracy in America. It will be found routinely in the ‘question boxes’ of the hierarchy’s publications” (People’s Padre, p. 86).
We would point out that the countries mentioned in the above paragraph are Roman Catholic countries par excellence, that for centuries they have been almost exclusively Roman Catholic, and that they are precisely the countries in which we expect to find the true fruits of Romanism.
Paul Blanshard, in another bestseller, his well documented American Freedom and Catholic Power, says that the Roman Catholic Church as a denomination “has the highest proportion of white criminals in our American prisons of any denomination” (p. 105). And in a footnote he says:
“This has been established by many studies of crime and juvenile delinquency, but it would be wrong to say that Catholicism is primarily responsible. Poverty and bad housing affect the lives of Catholic workers as well as others in our large cities. … Catholic pre‑eminence in the field of crime and juvenile delinquency is notable in our northern cities, especially in New York. A study, Crime and Religion, by Father Leo Kalmer, Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, 1936, showed that the rate of Catholic criminals committed to prisons in forty‑eight states was about twice that of the Catholic proportion in the population. See Leo H. Lehmann, The Catholic Church and Public Schools, Agora Publishing Co. Bishop Gallagher of Detroit declared in 1936, according to The New York Times of December 8, 1936, ‘It is a matter of serious reproach to the Church that more Catholic boys in proportion to the total number, get into trouble than those of any other denomination. One fifth of the people of Michigan are Catholics, but 50 percent of the boys in the Industrial School for Boys at Lansing are Catholics.’”
The New York Times, March 13, 1947, published an amazing admission by bishop John F. Noll, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, as given before the National Catholic Conference on Family Life, in Chicago the previous day. In this “chastening” confession, as the Times called it, this crusading bishop of the Roman hierarchy acknowledged that “Nearly all the evils of society prevail where we [Roman Catholics] live, and not where Protestants live,” that Roman Catholics are concentrated largely in the big cities of America where they constitute from one third to two thirds of the population, while the rural communities “where family life is most wholesome,” are “eighty percent Protestant.” He said:
“There are only 7,000,000 members of Protestant churches in the fifty biggest cities of the country, but 20,000,000 Catholics. Eighty percent of Protestantism is rural. And it is in rural America where family life is most wholesome and where the divorce rate is still low. On the other hand, where the bulk of Catholics live, one half of the marriages end in divorce. It is where they live that the big motion picture houses are located, the filthy magazine racks, the taverns and the gambling halls.”
Arthur Tenorio, staff psychologist of the New Mexico Boy’s School, reports that 85 percent of the boys committed to that institution are of Spanish-American background, and that 71 percent are Roman Catholics, while only 41 percent of the state’s total population is Roman Catholic (Christian Century, September 4, 1957).
In Britain the Sunday Times recently dealt with the subject of crime and its causes. An article declared frankly that “In this country [England] Roman Catholics, who have the most intensive religious training, have also the highest delinquency rates.” To support that statement it was pointed out that the proportion of Roman Catholics population‑wise was no more than ten percent, but that the proportion in boys’ Borstal institutions of correction was 23 percent, and in Holloway prison about 26 percent. It was further declared that during the war delinquency rates among Roman Catholics were approximately twice as high among those of other faiths, and that in Scotland in 1957 the 15 percent of Roman Catholics in the population provided 35 percent of those committed to Borstal institutions, and 40 percent of those committed to prison.
Chief among the devices used by the Roman Catholic Church in its policy of isolating its youth from childhood contacts with non‑Catholics is the parochial school. In order to justify in the eyes of Roman Catholics the necessity for supporting these “hothouses of Catholicism,” as they have been appropriately called, the Roman hierarchy condemns as godless the public school system which makes no distinction of race or creed. Surely the above statistics are at one and the same time a cause for alarm and a grave indictment of Roman Catholic education. They should be seriously considered by the Protestant people of this nation who are constantly being called upon to provide more and more support, through taxation and government handouts, for these Roman schools. Here we have a church making pretentious and bigoted claims about being “the only true church,” yet turning out a product that is responsible for approximately twice its proportionate share of juvenile delinquency and adult crime. Tolerant Americans would like to avoid this subject. No one likes to connect crime with a specific system of church training. Yet if it could be proved that crime is more prevalent, say, among the Presbyterians, or Baptists, or Methodists proportionately than among other religious groups, certainly the Roman Catholic authorities would not hesitate to point out that fact and to use it in justification of their church and their schools. But since the facts are so clear we should not hesitate to question the value of the parochial school, and to insist that the Roman Church must stand responsible for the influence that it exerts. And surely the above facts should make any open‑minded Roman Catholic want to inquire more carefully into the real nature of his church and the effect that it is having on society at large.
We must point out that the Mafia, probably the most notorious of all crime organizations, had its origin hundreds of years ago in Italy where for centuries the Roman Catholic Church almost exclusively has provided the religious background. It originated in Sicily in the late 13th century, as a semi‑vigilante, semi‑patriotic organization, designed to free Italy from French rule. Its rallying cry was: “Death to the French is Italy’s Cry!” In Italian the words were: Morte Alla Francia Italia Anela!, and the initials of these words spell MAFIA.
With the passage of time the Mafia became a secret criminal organization, preying on its own countrymen, specializing in murder, robbery, extortion, blackmail, and arson. It turned up in the United States as early as 1860, but not until the end of the century did it become a serious threat in this country. It found easy entrance because of the extremely lax immigration laws which made little effort to strain out criminal elements. It spread across the country from New York to California, being centered primarily in the big cities, working through organized gangs, and specializing in big money crime, such as narcotics, gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, murder, and robbery. In 1959 a book, Brotherhood of Evil, by Frederic Sondern, Jr., was published which goes into considerable detail concerning its origin, history, international workings, and recent activities.
The recent Senate crime investigation committee, headed by Senator McClellan, of Arkansas, and the earlier committee, headed by Senator Kefauver, of Tennessee, sought to show that the Mafia was the main support of organized crime in the United States. With a monotonous regularity the witnesses who were called for questioning turned out to be Italians of Roman Catholic background.
The underworld convention which met at Appalachin, New York, November 14, 1957, was alleged to have Mafia connections and resulted in an intense drive by law enforcement officials to suppress that organization. A lengthy editorial in the Kansas City Times, December 16, 1959, gave some interesting facts concerning that meeting. Among other things it said:
“A singular fact about the 60 men surprised at what turned out to be the best publicized barbecue in history is that all were of Southern Italian birth and ancestry, most of them Sicilian… the royalty of the underworld. Chief among the Mafia leaders who gathered at Joe Barbara’s $150,000 mountain top mansion that fateful November day was the recognized leader of vice and corruption in the United States, Vito Genovese, whose Mafia title is Don Vitone. As far back as 1939 he was dubbed ‘King of the Rackets’ by Thomas E. Dewey, former New York governor.”
Emmett McLoughlin remarks concerning the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church toward the Mafia:
“Its leaders, the cardinals and bishops, are conspicuously silent in the face of the Roman Catholic Sicilian Mafia’s complete defiance of decency and morals in the promotion of prostitution, narcotics, gambling, and labor racketeering in America. The same bishops and archbishops who vociferously condemn a young Catholic girl for entering a beauty contest say nothing about the traffic in narcotics and whoredom so long as good Catholics run the business” (American Culture and Catholic Schools, p. 232; 1960; Lyle Stuart, publisher; New York).
Prominent with Mafia or similar gangland connections have been the very royalty of the underworld, such as Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Joe Adonia, Albert Anastasia, Frank Costello, Frank Scalise, and others. The fact stands out clearly that the worst criminal element that we have received from any nation during the past several decades has come from Italy, and that the religious background of those men has been Roman Catholic. We have never had a comparable group from England, or Scotland, or Holland, or any other Protestant nation. Another editorial in the Kansas City Times made this comment:
“In the last 15 years nearly a thousand Italian born ‘unwanteds’ have been shipped back to their native land since the attorney general undertook to rid the United States of dope peddlers and an endless variety of thugs associated with the Mafia” (September 25, 1959).
Supporting this contention that in hundreds of years with practically no Protestant competition Roman Catholicism has failed to raise the moral and spiritual standards of the Italian nation is the testimony of Stephen L. Testa, himself a former Roman Catholic of Italian birth. He says:
“We see that in a population 96% Roman Catholic, the percentage of crime and illiteracy is very high. In Naples, for instance, filthy language, blasphemy, cursing, and lying is very prevalent among the populace, and so is drinking, gambling, thieving and low morals. Yet they attend mass, go to confession, wear scapulars and religious medals around their necks and pray to images in their homes. The Church has had them for hundreds of years and it has not benefited them in the least. On the other hand those who are converted to Protestantism immediately abandon those vices and sins and live cleaner lives. They are completely changed, they are ‘born again,’ and are new creatures in Christ. The idea of salvation is different in the two religions” (booklet, The Truth About Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, p. 31).
Another series of events to which we must call attention, which surely cannot be pure coincidence, is that of the assassination of three presidents of the United States, all three of whom were killed by Roman Catholics educated in parochial schools: Lincoln, by John Wilkes Booth; Garfield, by Charles J. Guiteau; and McKinley, by Leon Czolgosz. Theodore Roosevelt was shot and wounded by a Roman Catholic in Milwaukee, while a candidate for president in 1912. In Florida a Roman Catholic shot at Franklin Roosevelt, then president elect, missed him, but killed the mayor of Chicago who was riding beside him in the same car. Two Roman Catholics, Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo, Puerto Rican Nationalist party members, tried to kill Harry Truman in a shooting fray at Blair House, in Washington, D. C., while Truman was president (1950), and did kill one of his guards. Torresola was killed and Collazo is now serving a life term in Leavenworth penitentiary. And in 1954 Roman Catholic members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist party, in a wild shooting fray in the House of Representatives, attempted to kill members of that body and wounded five congressmen.
The Roman Catholic Church, of course, had no connection with the Mafia or its activities, nor with the actions of the others mentioned here. But as the same stem that almost exclusively provided the religious background out of which those men came, it bears a heavy responsibility and must be judged accordingly.
7 Questionable Hospital Practices
A Roman Catholic hospital practice which very definitely has a moral aspect to it is that of baptizing Protestants and others who are thought to be in danger of death. An article by Fr. John R. Connery, S. J., in Hospital Progress (April, 1959), which magazine carries on its front cover the words, “Official Journal of the Catholic Hospital Association,” sets forth in considerable detail the procedure to be followed by the chaplain or nurse in such cases. According to this article it is proper, and in some cases even mandatory, to baptize into the Roman Church, and even without their knowledge or consent, unbaptized persons or patients concerning whom it is not known whether they have been baptized or not, if they are thought to be in danger of death. The patient need not be actually dying, but perhaps unconscious or so critically ill that death is a possibility. This practice applies particularly to newborn babes and to unconscious or critically ill persons if their parents or relatives are not available for consultation. Information concerning the baptism need not be given to anyone other than the local priest who records it. In this article we read:
“Q. Are you obliged to tell the parents of an infant baptized in danger of death, if the parents are not Catholics? What if the parents resent it and refuse to raise the child a Catholic?”
“A. Ordinarily it is not permitted to baptize children of non-Catholic parents against their wishes. To do so would be to violate the rights of these parents. … When there is danger of death, however, the Church makes an exception, although even in this emergency primary responsibility for the child’s spiritual welfare belongs to the parents. … It is only when the parents, through neglect or for reasons of their own, fail to provide for the baptism of the child, or when the emergency does not allow even sufficient time to warn the parents, that Church permits the Catholic minister to baptize the child. In this case the Church’s concern over the future religious education of the child… yields to the child’s immediate spiritual need. Similarly the wishes of parents must give way to these circumstances to the child’s own right to the means of salvation. It will be permissible to baptize the child even without the knowledge or permission of the parents. … If a child in these circumstances lives through the emergency, the question arises about the advisability of informing the parents of the baptism. … We can say that it would not be necessary, or even advisable, to acquaint non‑Catholic parents with the fact that their child had received an emergency baptism unless there is good reason to believe that they would not resent it” [italics ours].
In regard to unconscious adults who are baptized Fr. Connery writes:
“In most cases it will not be advisable to acquaint the person with the fact that he was baptized unless it becomes clear that he would have wanted baptism under the circumstances.”
He goes on to say that those baptized become members of the Roman Catholic Church and that if children they should be trained as Catholics, but that it will not be wise to insist upon it if the parents do not agree, because resentment might be aroused against the church. He defends such baptism by saying that in any event it will not hurt anything, and that in some cases it might prove helpful, as for instance if the person married before a Protestant minister later was converted to Catholicism and wanted to get an annulment in order to marry a Roman Catholic. In such an event the first marriage would be held invalid.
This forced and secret baptism of the helpless—“baptism by stealth,” as some have called it—is justified by the Romanists on the basis of their doctrine that there is no hope of salvation for one who has not been baptized.
There are nearly 1,000 Roman Catholic hospitals in the United States. Most of the patients in these hospitals are not Catholics, yet their treatment is governed by the Roman Catholic code of ethics in which the doctors and nurses are minutely instructed. Those instructions are set forth in detail by the Jesuit scholar Father Henry Davis, in his Moral and Pastoral Theology, and by Father Patrick A. Finney, in his Moral Problems in Hospital Practice (1947 ed., imprimatur by the archbishop of St. Louis). Concerning one particular phase of that code Paul Blanchard, in his American Freedom and Catholic Pourer, says:
“One of the most important doctrines in the Catholic medical code is the doctrine of the equality of mother and fetus. This doctrine is of special interest to every potential mother who has a Catholic physician.
“When the average American woman approaches the ordeal of childbearing, she takes it for granted that her physician will do everything possible to save her life in the event of complications. I am sure that 99 percent of all American husbands would consider themselves murderers if, confronted with the choice between the life of a wife and the life of her unborn child, they chose the life of the fetus. This is particularly true in the early months of pregnancy when such risks most frequently develop. Most of our citizens assume without discussion that every possible effort should be made to save the life of both mother and child, but that if a choice is forced upon the physician the mother should be given first consideration.
“The Catholic hierarchy does not endorse this choice, nor can a good Catholic physician leave such a choice to the husband and father and be true to the dogmas of his church. ‘The life of each is equally sacred,’ said pope Pius XI in his encyclical, Casti Connubii, ‘and no one has the power, not even the public authority, to destroy it.’” (pp. 139-140).
Father Finney, in the book just mentioned, states the doctrine in question and answer form:
“If it is morally certain that a pregnant mother and her unborn child will both die, if the pregnancy is allowed to take its course, but at the same time, the attending physician is morally certain that he can save the mother’s life by removing the inviable fetus, is it lawful for him to do so?”
Answer. “No, it is not. Such removal of the fetus would be direct abortion.”
Mr. Blanshard remarks:
“It should be noted that under this statement of the complete doctrine, both mother and child must be allowed to die rather than allow a lifesaving operation that is contrary to the code of the priests. There is no choice here between one life and another; it is a choice between two deaths and one. The priests choose the two deaths, presumably in order to save the souls of both mother and child from a sin that would send the mother’s soul to hell and the child’s to the twilight hereafter known as limbo. The fetus in Father Finney’s question would die anyway. It is described as ‘inviable,’ which means incapable of life. It may be a six-weeks embryo about the size of a small marble, without a face. Nevertheless, the life of the mother must be sacrificed for this embryo that, by definition, is dying or will die.
“This doctrine is not a matter of opinion that priests or doctors are free to reject. It has been repeated over and over by Catholic authorities and incorporated into positive church law. Pope Pius XII reiterated the doctrine before the International College of Surgeons in Rome in May, 1948, when he declared that in spite of ‘the understandable anguish of husbandly love’ it is ‘illicit even in order to save the mother—to cause directly the death of the small being that is called, if not for the life here below, then at least for the future life, to a high and sublime destiny” (pp. 141).
Such practices we consider reprehensible. And yet about eighty percent of all federal funds being given to non‑profit hospitals are going to Roman Catholic hospitals. The code of ethics under which those hospitals operate is not that of the laws of the United States of America, nor of the states in which they are located, nor the code of the American Medical Association, but that of the Roman Catholic Church. Surely Protestants and others should not enter Roman Catholic hospitals if they can avoid it.
We have been struck repeatedly throughout the study of this religion, the basic policies of which have been formulated almost 100 percent by celibate priests, with the various phases of it which inflict such callous, inhuman, even brutal treatment upon women. That has come out in the abuses practiced in the confessional, the enslavement of women as nuns, the exclusion of women from any policy-making function in the church, the almost complete lack of educational facilities for women in Roman Catholic countries and again here in regard to hospital practice. This trait Roman Catholicism has in common with Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Mohammedanism. Each of these, as the present writer once heard a guide in the Mormon tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah, explain concerning Mormonism, is a “man’s religion.” How utterly unchristian such practices are!
L. H. Lehmann, in his booklet, The Secret of Catholic Power, shows why the Roman Church often is able to exert an influence far beyond that of its actual numbers. He says:
“As a system of power, the Roman Catholic Church has no equal and is likely to retain its influence as long as mankind remains spiritually unregenerate. For its entire structure is geared to an earthly, human realism that is admirably suited to the weakness of human nature. It possesses elements of power that are strictly empirical and tangible, of the kind that weigh far more with the multitudes than logical arguments or spiritual insight. On the one hand, it gains all the advantages accorded to religion, and on the other, all the benefits, profits, and power that accrue to political and business organizations.
“These elements of power appeal not only to the Catholic Church’s own membership, but even more so to the great mass of people outside its membership who have little or no interest in any particular religion. This fact in itself constitutes an element of power that is more effective than all the others combined. It explains why a country such as the United States, whose population is fully 80 percent non‑Catholic, is controlled to such a great extent by the Catholic Church which claims the direct obedience of less than 20 percent of its inhabitants.
“Neither in Protestant countries such as the United States, nor in so‑called Catholic countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and South America, does the Catholic Church derive its power from the actual numbers of devout church‑going Catholics in good standing. This is small compared to the number of its mere adherents who though baptized in the Catholic Church fail to live up to its requirements of actual membership or ‘communion’ as understood by Protestant bodies. It is much smaller still compared to the vast number of unchurched people who admire it at a distance and are influenced, willy-nilly, by its political power, by its control of the press, movies, and radio, by its pageantry and grandeur, and, above all, by its moral code. Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, and the Latin American countries are regarded as almost 100 percent Roman Catholic and their destinies are tied to the Catholic Church’s social, cultural, and moral code. Yet, only about one fifth of the Italian population are devout, church‑going Catholics; in France only about 17 percent are practicing Catholics; and were it not for Franco’s forced application of the Catholic Church laws and decrees, the percentage in Spain would be even less. Cardinal Spellman confessed in his Action This Day, p. 22, written in 1944 during his visits to Italy, Spain and other countries, that at a dinner with high prelates at the Nunciature in Madrid, he remembered the ‘striking and terrifying remark’ of a friend who was an authority on Spain that: ‘Twenty‑four hours of disorder in Spain could mean the assassination of every bishop, priest and nun that could be found.’”
But, granted that the situation outlined by Mr. Lehmann is true, and we believe that it is, what is the remedy? How are Protestants to meet the challenge of Roman Catholicism? The solution, of course, is for Protestants to take their religion seriously, to work for it, propagate it, and so to evangelize effectively their own communities and eventually the world, as thev are capable of doing with the true Gospel in their possession. Christ’s command to His church was: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations “ (Matt. 28:19‑20). That Romanism has flourished so luxuriously, and that it is to a large extent unopposed in many places, is due primarily not to Romanist strength but to Protestant indifference, as Modernism and Liberalism have weakened the churches and some of them have lost their evangelical witness.
However, there are some encouraging signs. The Roman Church has lost its grip on many of the traditionally Roman Catholic countries of Europe, and in those where it still has control it is hanging on by means of the artificial respiration of United States dollars. Various degrees of anti‑clericalism are manifesting themselves in France and Italy, and in Spain the Roman Church retains control only through the support of a fascist political dictatorship. In Latin America it has lost the support of the laboring classes and also of the educated classes, and probably can claim the support of not more than 15 percent of the people.
On the other hand, in the United States the Roman Church has increased its power significantly. It is an ironic turn of events that as other countries are throwing off the yoke of Rome, this “Land of the Free” is crawling under that yoke almost without a murmur. This has been a most fortunate break for the Vatican, and has enabled it to maintain far more strength in other countries than otherwise would have been possible. Its financial support from the United States has been enormous. To what extent it has gained control in the United States is difficult to estimate. But it clearly has made extensive gains not only in the political realm but also through its indirect pressure group control of our press, radio, television, and movies. Many of our biggest cities are so firmly controlled by Roman Catholic political machines that it is practically impossible for a Protestant to be elected mayor, e.g., New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and others. In some places the Roman Church is now the de facto, if not the de jure, ruler of this country.
When Protestantism fails there is one other source of relief, howbeit, a long‑range and a very unpleasant one, namely, that Roman Catholicism carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. It is a false system, and therefore it cannot ultimately succeed any more than can Nazism, or Fascism, or Communism, or any of the pagan religions. But like those systems it can deceive millions, and it can cause untold misery and destruction while it does hold sway.
Where Romanism becomes the dominant religion for generations, poverty and illiteracy become the rule, and private and public morals become a scandal. Eventually there comes a reaction. In Latin America today, for instance, we see such a reaction taking place. Weakened by the moral and spiritual condition of its clergy, and by the ignorance, superstition, poverty, and lethargy of its people, the Roman Church becomes an easy prey to its enemies, foremost of which is Communism. The Roman hierarchy has just recently waked up to the fact that it must clean up the church in Latin America or lose the whole area.
Such reactions as we are talking about have occurred in England, France, Spain, Mexico, and other countries, in which the people eventually rose up and disestablished or even abolished this misnamed Holy Roman Catholic Church. What a tragedy that a professedly Christian church should so degenerate that public opinion would hold it in contempt! The great rebellion that occurred against the Roman Church at the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, when in disgust and hatred for the old system the people rose up and more or less en masse threw it out of whole countries, was such a reaction. It is to be noted that a popular uprising against Protestantism has never occurred in any of those countries; for Protestantism does not enslave, but liberates and enlightens the people.
A most timely and earnest warning comes from one of our church magazines. It reads:
“The Roman Catholic Church is continually basking and growing in the light of free nationwide coverage in every media of communication. Never in all history has one religious faith received as much free TV, radio and newspaper coverage as Romanism receives today—and all of it favorable! She is quite effectively shielded from criticism. When has any person ever seen the hierarchy, the practices or the faith of Rome ridiculed or belittled as we constantly witness in the case of fundamental Bible believers? Think of the publicity favoring Rome, attached to the late President Kennedy’s inauguration and death, the pope’s visit to the United Nations with almost exclusive day‑long TV coverage, and more recently the marriage of Luci Baines Johnson to Patrick Nugent. For days at a time we witnessed whole newspaper pages given over to the extolling of Romanism. Then a Roman Catholic televised wedding!—and all of those events slanted, edited and projected to extol the teachings of Rome. It is no secret that Rome has been working for years to buy and take over all of the media of communication and news. It is terrifying to one who understands the sinister designs of Rome, to see the large number of television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines being bought up and controlled by Rome” (Western Voice, August 19, 1966). We have warned earlier (p. 379) of the danger inherent in the vast wealth accumulated by the Roman Church and held in reserve for possible use in just such purposes as these.
Intolerance, Bigotry, Persecution
1. “The Only True Church”
2. Roman Catholic Intolerance
3. Freedom of Conscience
6. Present-Day Spain
7. Italy, Yugoslavia
8. Latin America
9. Contrast Between the British-American and the Southern European-Latin American Culture
1 “The Only True Church”
We have had occasion through the earlier chapters of this book to cite numerous cases of Roman Catholic intolerance in practice, and we shall have occasion to cite others. In this section we cite examples as set forth in the official creeds and authoritative statements of church leaders. The most authoritative of all Roman Catholic creedal statements is that of the Council of Trent. Concerning the pope it declares: “He hath all power on earth. … All temporal power is his; the dominion, jurisdiction and government of the whole earth is his by divine right. All rulers of the earth are his subjects and must submit to him.”
The 14th article of the Creed of Pope Pius IV, which is an abbreviated form of the Creed of the Council of Trent, refers to what it terms “this true Catholic faith, out of which none can be saved.”
“Heretics may be not only excommunicated, but also justly put to death” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIV, p. 768).
“Protestantism of every form has not, and never can have, any rights where Catholicity is triumphant” (Bronson’s Review).
“Non‑Catholic methods of worshipping God must be branded counterfeit” (Living Our Faith, by Flynn, Loretto, and Simon; a widely used high school textbook; p. 247).
“In themselves all forms of Protestantism are unjustified. They should not exist” (America, January 4, 1941).
The Baltimore Catechism, after declaring that the four marks by which the church can be known are, that it is one, that it is holy, that it is Catholic, and that it is apostolic, asks: “In which Church are these marks found?” (Question 133), and it answers: “These attributes and marks are found in the Holy Roman Catholic Church alone.”
Pope Boniface VIII made the claim: “We declare it to be altogether necessary to salvation that every human creature should be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
The late pope Pius XII had the impudence to tell an American audience in a radio broadcast that the pope in Rome is “the only one authorized to act and teach for God.” In 1953 he declared that, “What is not in accord with truth [i.e., Roman Catholicism] has objectively no right of existence, propagation, or action.”
Pope John XXIII, the Second, was no sooner inaugurated in November, 1958, than in his coronation address he gave expression to the same sentiment. Speaking of the “fold” of Jesus Christ, by which is meant the company of the saved, he said: “Into this fold of Jesus Christ no one can enter if not under the guidance of the Sovereign Pontiff; and men can securely reach salvation only when they are united with him, since the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ and represents His person on this earth.”
We have already cited arrogant and intolerant statements from the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX.
The following excerpts in a similar vein are taken from the more than 500 items compiled by Raywood Frazier in his book, Catholic Words and Actions, all documented and based on writings approved by the Roman Catholic Church or on statements of Roman Catholics in positions of authority:
“The true [Roman Catholic] Church can tolerate no strange churches besides herself” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIV, p. 766).
“The Roman Catholic Church… must demand the right of freedom for herself alone (Civilta Cattolica, April, 1948; official Jesuit organ; Rome).
“The pope has the right to pronounce sentence of deposition against any sovereign” (Bronson’s Review, Vol. I, p. 48).
“We declare, say, define, and pronounce that every being should be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Pope Boniface VIII; Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XV, p. 126).
“No Catholic may positively and unconditionally approve of the separation of church and state” (Msgr. O’Toole, Catholic University of America, 1939).
“The pope is the supreme judge, even of civil laws, and is incapable of being under any true obligation to them” (Civilta Cattolica).
“Individual liberty in reality is only a deadly anarchy” (Pope Pius XII; April 6, 1951).
“All Catholics, therefore, are bound to accept the Syllabus [of Errors, of pope Pius IX]” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14).
These claims are precise and clear. The official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, therefore, is that it alone is the true church, that all other churches and religious groups are in error, either heretical or pagan, and that such churches and groups have not even the right of existence. Without hesitation it consigns them to perdition. Truly Romanism, like Diotrephes “loveth to have the preeminence” (3 John 1:9). In sharp contrast with that teaching and practice, no Protestant church holds that it is the only way of salvation. Protestants hold rather—and they find this teaching written clearly in the Bible—that all who accept Christ as their personal Savior, all who obey and worship Him as Lord and Master, will be saved regardless of what church they belong to. To hold that only those who belong to a particular group can be saved, and only because they belong to that group, marks that group as merely a sect. For a sect, in the strict sense of the term, is a group that cuts itself off from the main stream of Christianity, a group which attempts to shut itself in as the Lord’s people, while shutting all others out. Such practice reveals, in the first place, a narrow‑minded attitude, and in the second place, an inexcusable ignorance of what the Bible really teaches.
It is from that false premise, that the Roman Church is the only true church, that the well‑known Roman Catholic intolerance logically springs. If Rome is the only true church, then it automatically becomes her duty to suppress and destroy all other churches which, not being true churches, are, of course, false churches. In order to accomplish that purpose she invariably seeks a union of church and state, in order that she may use the power of the state to that end. And any government to which the Roman Church becomes legally joined, through a concordat or otherwise, is inevitably led into that course of action. Throughout the centuries that has been the method employed by the Roman Church in her efforts to destroy Protestantism.
Freedom of religion logically involves separation of church and state. Such separation precludes the state from making concordats or treaties of any kind with the Vatican or any other spiritual power. But Rome does not like that limitation nor does she like being treated as an equal among the various churches. During the Middle Ages she was mistress of most of Europe through her alliances with and control over civil governments; and she maintained that position for centuries, suppressing all opposition, usually with the help of the civil authorities. Yet she failed utterly to Christianize those lands. Instead that unchristian monopoly produced the “Dark Ages” when ignorance, superstition, illiteracy, and immorality reached their worst state.
2 Roman Catholic Intolerance
The practice followed by the Roman Catholic Church in the countries where it has been in power confirms that it means what it says in the statements just quoted. We need only look at the countries of southern Europe and Latin America where Rome has had control to see what will happen in the United States if she gains control here. In this country where Protestantism is dominant Roman Catholics enjoy all the advantages of freedom of religion. But in countries where they have control they limit or prohibit any religion other than their own. In various countries today it is practically impossible for the dissenter to hold public office, or to practice his profession, or even to secure employment unless he gives some allegiance to the Roman Church. He has to pay taxes to support a creed in which he does not believe. If he is a member of the Roman Church and leaves it, he is likely to find himself discriminated against at every turn. Under such conditions he becomes a second class citizen. True religious freedom includes the right to change one’s religion, as well as the right to practice it—a right which Roman Catholics themselves insist upon as they seek to make converts in Protestant countries.
The Apostle Paul said: “If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). And the Lord Jesus was kind, loving, and peaceful, even to sinners. He never persecuted anyone, not even those who were in error. But the arrogant Roman Church, with the blood of the Inquisition on its hands, unrepentant and defiant, presumes to set itself up as the final authority in the realm of faith and morals, and has cruelly slaughtered tens of thousands and has persecuted millions of others merely because they did not submit to its domination.
It is interesting to notice the difference between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant definition of the term “heresy.” For Protestants it means something contrary to what the Bible teaches, while for Roman Catholics it means lack of conformity to the practice of the Roman Church—which may be something quite different. Roman Catholics, for instance, are forbidden to attend “heretical” services, that is, services in any other church. Thus a Catholic cannot take part in a Protestant service without committing a mortal sin and so offending the hierarchy. And having committed such a sin he would be bound to go to a priest, confess his sin, promise not to repeat the offense, and receive a penance by way of punishment.
In free Protestant America the Roman Catholics have the right freely to preach their beliefs and to promote their church. They receive the full privileges of tax exemption for their churches, schools, and other properties on precisely the same basis as do Protestants. But they are frank to tell us that if ever the tables are turned and they become the dominant power things will be different. They will deny us the privilege of preaching the Gospel according to what we believe, and they will deny tax exemption to our churches. A frank statement of their attitude toward other churches—as frank as Marx’s Communist Manifesto against capitalistic nations, or Hitler’s Mein Kampf against the German Republic—is found in the official Jesuit organ, Civilta Cattolica, published in Rome. This journal enjoys high prestige among church scholars, and is known to be close to the pope. It is, therefore, one of the most authoritative of all Roman Catholic sources. Listen to these words:
“The Roman Catholic Church, convinced through its divine prerogatives of being the only true church, must demand the right of freedom for herself alone, because such a right can only be possessed by truth, never by error. As for other religions, the Church will certainly never draw the sword, but she will require that by legitimate means they shall not be allowed to propagate false doctrine. Consequently, in a state where the majority of people are Catholic, the Church will require that legal existence be denied to error, and that if religious minorities actually exist, they shall have only a de facto existence without opportunity to spread their beliefs. … In some countries Catholics will be obliged to ask full religious freedom for all, resigned at being forced to cohabit where they alone should rightfully be allowed to live. But in doing this the Church does not renounce her thesis which remains the most imperative of her laws, but merely adapts herself to de facto conditions which must be taken into account in practical affairs… The Church cannot blush for her own want of tolerance as she asserts it in principle and applies it in practice” (April, 1948).
This is the “classic” Roman Catholic position in regard to religious liberty. It is echoed by numerous other sources. Msgr. Francis J. Connell, whom we have referred to as the highest ranking Roman Catholic theologian in the United States, says:
“We believe that the rulers of a Catholic country have the right to restrict the activity of those who would lead their people away from their allegiance to the Catholic Church. … They possess the right to prevent propaganda against the Church. This is merely a logical conclusion from the basic Catholic tenet that the Son of God established one religion and commanded all men to accept it under pain of eternal damnation” (American Ecclesiastical Review, January, 1946).
At the college and seminary level a textbook with imprimatur by Archbishop (now cardinal) Francis J. Spellman, after saying that the state should acknowledge and support the Roman Catholic religion to the exclusion of all others, has this to say concerning religious toleration:
“Does State recognition of the Catholic religion necessarily imply that no other religion should be tolerated? Much depends upon circumstances and much depends upon what is meant by toleration. Neither unbaptized persons nor those born into a non‑Catholic sect should ever be coerced into the Catholic Church. This would be fundamentally irrational, for belief depends upon the will and the will is not subject to physical compulsion. Should such persons be permitted to practice their own form of worship? If these are carried out within the family, or in such an inconspicuous manner as to be an occasion neither for scandal nor of perversion of the faithful, they may properly be tolerated by the State. … Their participation in false worship does not necessarily imply a willful affront to the true Church nor a menace to public order or social welfare. In a Catholic State which protects and favors the Catholic religion whose citizens are in great majority adherents of the true faith, the religious performances of an insignificant and ostracized sect will constitute neither a scandal nor an occasion of perversion to Catholics. Hence there exists no sufficient reason to justify the State in restricting the liberty of individuals.
“Quite distinct from the performance of false religious worship and preaching to the members of the erring sect is the propagation of the false doctrine among Catholics. This could become a source of injury, a positive menace, to the religious welfare of true believers. Against such an evil they have a right of protection of the Catholic State. On the one hand, this propaganda is harmful to the citizens and contrary to public welfare; on the other hand, it is not among the natural rights of the propagandists. Rights are merely means to rational ends. Since no rational end is promoted by the dissemination of false doctrine, there exists no right to indulge in this practice” (p. 317; from Catholic Principles of Politics, by John A. Ryan and Francis J. Boland. Copyright 1940, by the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Used by permission of the Macmillan Company).
Professors Ryan and Boland, after noting that at present the Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of religion, make this statement (cited previously, re. schools):
“Suppose that the constitutional obstacles to proscription of non‑Catholics have been legitimately removed and they themselves have become numerically insignificant: what then would be the proper course of action for a Catholic State? Apparently, the latter State could logically tolerate only such religious activities as were confined to the members of the dissenting group. It could not permit them to carry on general propaganda nor accord their organization certain privileges that had formerly been extended to all religious corporations, for example, exemption from taxation” (p. 320).
Here the method of dealing with the problem of religious liberty in the event that the Roman Catholic Church becomes the dominant power in the United States is that of changing the Constitution so that every word about religious liberty is wiped out! The writers then ask what protection Protestants would have against the Roman Catholic state and go on to say that they would have none at all. They say that dissenting churches would lose their exemption from taxation, while the Roman Catholic Church would retain such exemption. They also say that the Roman Catholic state could logically tolerate only such religious activities as were confined to the members of the dissenting group—which means that no public meeting of any Protestant church would be allowed. The only meetings tolerated would be those of the members held in private. Under such an arrangement the church would die of strangulation. Ryan’s and Boland’s assurance that they are talking about an idealized Roman Catholic state which presumably is some considerable distance in the future, and that Protestants therefore need not worry for a long time to come, is completely worthless, and even frivolous. Actually what they are saying is that Protestants need not worry until it is too late to worry.
Ryan’s and Boland’s comment, of course, is not merely a personal one, but one that is in harmony with the general tenor of Roman Catholic thinking. We might point out in behalf of Protestantism that during the economic emergency that has existed in so many countries following the Second World War, this nation has distributed much food and other supplies freely among needy nations without discriminating against religious beliefs, and that in numerous instances Roman Catholic relief agencies in those countries have distributed those supplies as if they were gifts from the Roman Catholics of the United States. No such acts of friendship and generosity were ever extended by a Roman Catholic nation to a Protestant nation in the entire course of world history, and we can be sure that they never will be. But how utterly devoid of any sense of gratitude and fair play Romanism is toward Protestantism! What Ryan and Boland threaten is indeed the kind of treatment that we can expect from the Roman Church after having nurtured it in our free land—if and when it becomes dominant. Protestants at least have had fair warning, for these things have not been plotted in secret, but published openly and taught in the schools.
Rome still follows the policy set forth by the French Roman Catholic writer, Louis Veuillot, who said to a group of Protestants:
“When you are in a majority we ask for religious liberty in the name of your principles. When we are in a majority we refuse it to you in the name of ours.”
There is in this regard a close parallel between the Roman Catholic demand for full religious freedom in the United States so that they can build their church and lay the groundwork for the destruction of religious liberty, and that of the Communists as they claim the protection of our Constitution and demand full civil liberties while building a system which if successful will destroy ours. This land still is predominantly Protestant and free. But if we are indifferent we can lose all of our freedoms, either to a totalitarian church or a totalitarian state.
We know that today Rome is seeking by every means at her disposal to “Make America Catholic”—that is her motto—and thus to eliminate the world’s stronghold of Protestantism. But for many centuries the Roman Church had a monopoly in Europe, and the results were deplorable. In the countries that she controls she continues to fail to raise either the religious or the social standards of the people. Almost invariably monopoly is bad, whether in religion, business, manufacturing, labor unions, or government. And an ecclesiastical monopoly is worst of all. There is too much greed in the human heart and too much pride in the human mind, for any such system to work, whether in the church or in the state.
In Protestant countries the Roman Church hides her true character. When confronted by an alert and watchful Protestantism she becomes reasonably tolerant. She establishes schools, hospitals, orphanages, and at times even holds out a fraternal hand to those of differing views. In many an American town or village the Roman Church seems much like any Protestant church. The priest is friendly, as also are the people, and there is little outward difference between them and their Protestant neighbors. The Roman Catholic people in such communities are for the most part perfectly sincere, sharing in general the American ideals of freedom and liberty. Occasionally a local priest, or even a leader of prominence, makes a high‑minded pronouncement on the subject of religious liberty—as even Cardinal Spellman has done on occasions. Many Protestants have been deceived by such semblances of charity. But as the Roman Church gains strength the priests invariably indoctrinate their people with a more aggressive attitude, and they begin to place restrictions on Protestantism and to outlaw it as far as possible. Those who want to know what Roman Catholicism really is should look at the clerical system that it has developed in those countries where it has control, not at the restrained, half‑Protestant and comparatively mild form that is found in many American communities.
American Roman Catholics, like their fellow church members in all other parts of the world, belong to a completely totalitarian church. Policy in their church is not made at the local level or national level, but at the top, in Rome. The people are not consulted; they are told. We had that brought to our attention quite forcibly in the 1960 election when the Roman Catholic people of Puerto Rico were threatened with excommunication if they did not follow the political advice of the hierarchy. When in deference to popular opinion American priests and bishops sometimes express themselves as favoring religious freedom and toleration, they do not speak for anyone—not even for themselves. They are allowed to proceed on a certain course as long as that seems expedient; but when the appropriate time comes, Rome issues an official policy statement and that settles the matter.
While the Roman Church manifests a degree of good will and tolerance in the United States, her real nature is revealed in the cruelties and intolerance that she practices on those of other faiths in countries where she is dominant—at the present time most clearly seen in Spain and Colombia. The pope could stop the persecutions and abuses in those lands at once if he wanted to do so. Let it be remembered by all Americans that no matter how friendly individual Roman Catholics are now, once their church gains control even the laymen will have to change their attitude. They will not be permitted to mingle freely with Protestants and be cooperative and friendly. This deceptive pose, not primarily on the part of the people but on the part of the hierarchy, is what makes that church so dangerous. Such diverse behavior is based not on the teaching of Scripture nor on principle, but on expediency and Canon Law. It should arouse only disgust and resentment on the part of all informed people.
The famous British historian, James Anthony Froude, analyzed the character of Romanism well when he wrote:
“Where it has been in power, the Church of Rome has shown its real colors. … In Protestant countries where it is in opposition, it wears the similitude of an angel. It is energetic and devoted; it avoids scandal; it appeals for toleration, and, therefore, pretends to be tolerant. Elsewhere it has killed the very spirit of religion, and those who break from it believe nothing.”
Most American Roman Catholic writers seek to point to some sources of religious freedom within Roman Catholicism. Almost invariably they mention the Religious Toleration Act of Maryland as an event contributing to the establishment of religious freedom in America. They are fond of pointing out that Maryland was established with a Roman Catholic majority and that its legislature passed the act just mentioned. But the passage of that act becomes rather amusing when we remember that Roman Catholicism in Maryland was at that time only a small island in a sea of Protestantism, and that most of the colonists having come to America to escape religious persecution in the various European countries were strongly opposed to any church controlled state. It is, after all, standard Roman procedure to speak up for religious toleration when they are in the minority, and to deny it when they are in the majority. Furthermore, the Maryland colony, which was founded in 1634 under Roman Catholic sponsorship, soon lost that distinction; for after 1691 the Protestants were in the majority. At the time of the American Revolution the Roman Catholics numbered only about one percent of the population of the thirteen colonies. No Huguenot was allowed to land in Quebec during the colonial period.
A further consequence of Roman Catholic intolerance in the European countries was that it alienated the Jews and turned them strongly against Christianity. Nearly all evangelistic work among the Jews has been done by Protestants. Rome has avoided the really hard mission work of the world, that among the Mohammedans and among the Jews. For 1,200 years the Roman Church persecuted the Jews, so that they came to look upon Christians as their natural enemies. On different occasions the Jews were forced to flee from Rome, and one of the most cruel persecutions came in Spain at the time of the Inquisition. In some countries they had to live in ghettos, and sometimes had to wear hated yellow identification badges. Many occupations were closed to them. Often they were denied education. Because the Roman Church was for so long dominant in Europe, the average Jew doesn’t differentiate between the different branches of Christianity. To him even yet Romanism is Christianity, and he therefore is quite sure that Christianity is anti‑Semitic. Because of that past record the cause of Jewish evangelism suffers a historic handicap. The persecutions are not easily forgotten.
3 Freedom of Conscience
The First Amendment to the Constitution reads:
“Congress shall make no laws respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacefully to assemble.”
What a sharp contrast there is between these sentiments and the categorical statement of Pope Leo XIII (1903) in Libertas that “It is not lawful to demand, to defend, or to grant unconditional freedom of thought, or speech, or writing, or religion, as if these were so many rights given by nature to man.”
Persecution of those who conscientiously differ with us is so out of harmony with Protestant ideal that we can scarcely realize the vigor with which that practice, together with that of excommunication and the interdict was carried out by the Roman Church in former ages. Yet so bowed down were the people and nations during the Middle Ages that usually little more than the mere threat of such action was required for the church to secure whatever obedience or property it wanted.
Freedom of religion, as we have indicated earlier, must include the right to change one’s religion. The United Nations Charter of Human Rights has quite properly insisted upon this, even in the face of strong opposition from Romanist countries. The right of private judgment is one of the most precious benefits that we have received from the Protestant Reformation. Even in Protestant states which have established churches, as in Sweden for instance, where all the people are supposed to belong to the Lutheran Church, anyone who wants to withdraw can do so merely by stating his desire to that effect. That is the sensible course to follow, for certainly the person knows his own mind better than does anyone else. No priest or governmental official should attempt to make that decision for him. And yet it is almost impossible anywhere to secure a release from the Roman Catholic Church. Even after one announces that he has changed his views and asks for a dismissal the Roman Church still attempts to hold him, to persuade him, perhaps even over a period of years, and her policy is never to give up one who has been baptized into that church. We do not see the principles of democracy and freedom in that church, but rather those of totalitarianism and dictatorship.
One of the most flagrant denials of freedom in the Roman Church is the Index of Forbidden Books,1 a device which deprives the people of freedom of judgment as to what they may read. This restriction is imposed on the pretense of shielding them from error; its real purpose is to isolate them from liberal and Protestant ideas, to maintain control over them, and so to hold them in the Roman Church. Even the Bible was put on the Index by the Council of Valencia, in 1229, and was not removed until centuries later. And to the present day all versions of the Bible except those which contain the official Roman Catholic explanatory notes still are on the Index. It is for this reason that in Roman Catholic countries the priests seek to confiscate and destroy all copies of the Bible put out by the Protestant churches or by the Bible societies. All editions of the Bible, all portions of it, and all Biblical commentaries in any language that do not show the imprimatur or nihil obstat of some Roman official are forbidden. A long list of books and other publications are blacklisted, not always because they are anti‑Christian, but because they are or are suspected of being anti‑Romanist. The laws of the Index are binding on the priests as well as on the people. Only the bishops, cardinals, and others whose rank is not below that of bishop are free from the Index.
1 See footnote [#1], [chapter 4].
The intolerance of the Roman Catholic Church even toward its own people is perhaps seen most clearly in this restriction which forbids them to read anything that others write about its history or doctrines. And well do they keep their people in the dark concerning its history; for most of the people, if they knew its real history, probably would leave it immediately. This one church alone in the civilized world follows such an obscurantist rule and tells its people that they commit mortal sin if they so much as read what others say about them. A Roman Catholic young man who reads a criticism of his church, or who attends a lecture criticizing his church will be rebuked more severely by the priest than if he commits a sexual irregularity or some other crime against society. The reasoning is that the latter may be repaired, but the former leads to irreparable loss of faith.
This attitude on the part of the hierarchy and priesthood shows a glaring lack of scholarship and of confidence in their own doctrinal position. Although they claim to have the truth, and even to be the only true church, they do not dare risk a comparison of that “truth” with the supposed error which they oppose. They choose rather to keep their people in as complete ignorance as possible concerning all other systems. But that is the position of the special pleader. True scholars who are sure of their own position do not hesitate to state the position of an opponent, and then to expose its errors if such there are. Even in dealing with Communism and atheism we want to know what they hold, then we proceed to show their falsity. Protestants do not hesitate to acquaint their people with the Roman Catholic system, and then to point out its errors. In fact it is Protestant practice to study and discuss all of the other religions. Failure on the part of the Romanists to do the same reveals a conscious weakness, a reluctance to join the battle in a fair and open way and face logical conclusions. We challenge the Roman hierarchy to let its priests and its people investigate Protestantism fairly and openly or to give up the claim that it alone has the truth. It has often been said that a person who does not know both sides of a question really does not know either side. Not until he knows what his own doctrinal system sets forth, and what can be said against it, does he know what he believes and why.
The reader may wonder how it is possible in countries such as the United States, England, Holland, etc., for the Roman Church to fence its people away from the learning of modern times. If the facts of papal history and of European and American history are as we have represented them, it may be thought incredible that any church could maintain in its schools and in its churches a version radically at variance with those facts. The explanation however, is just this, that the Roman Catholic is restricted to the literature of his own church. Every book he reads must have been passed by the censor. He has been taught from childhood that the reading of forbidden books is a grave sin, a sin against faith and morals. The Index has indeed proved to be an effective weapon for keeping both the clergy and the laity in obedient submission. It keeps them from thinking, and therefore from rebelling.
The devout, sincere Roman Catholic, priest or layman, finds it very difficult to change his religion. The church, of course, has planned it that way. Even though he may have doubts concerning some things, he finds it hard to make an investigation. He must not even carry on a conversation with a Protestant about religious matters unless his priest is also present. Even among the priests many would not dare to read a heretical book, or carry on such a conversation without permission from a bishop. Some, however, whose duty it is to defend their religion against attacks do find it necessary to investigate evangelical Christianity. And not infrequently one of them is won by the sublimity and simplicity of its teaching. But in the main the Roman Church withholds from its priests and people that broader knowledge and outlook on the world which makes for a well‑rounded personality. Incidentally the minister of the Methodist church in Rome, Rev. Reginald Kissack, reports that some Roman Catholic priests in Italy are unsettled and are making tentative inquiries about Protestantism and that nearly always the question, “What started your unrest?” gets the answer, “I started to read the Gospels.”
The dictionary defines a “bigot” as “one obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own church, party, belief or opinion.” And the adjective “bigoted” is defined as, “so obstinately attached to some creed, opinion, or practice as to be illiberal or intolerant.”
A strange thing happened in the United States during the 1960 political campaign, in which the candidates for president were a Roman Catholic, John F. Kennedy, and a Protestant, Richard M. Nixon. In this land that had been comparatively free from religious prejudice in past elections the Roman Catholics attempted and, because there was no organized or effective Protestant reply, succeeded to a surprising extent in muzzling free men by the cunning use of the word “bigot.” A widespread campaign was launched to popularize the idea that anyone who for whatever reason voted against their candidate was a “bigot,” and the term was freely used over the radio and television, in the newspapers, and in political discussion. Along with this they sought to label as a “hate monger” and as “hate literature” any person or any literature that even so much as mentioned the Roman Catholic Church in connection with the political campaign. This was their strategy in the Protestant United States, although in all Roman Catholic countries the religious issue immediately becomes a prominent feature in any campaign if a Protestant is involved—if indeed they do not forbid by constitutional requirement any Protestant from even being nominated for the position of head of state, as is the case in Spain, Colombia, Argentina, and Paraguay. In various other countries where Romanism is strong, practical considerations make it next to impossible for a Protestant to become head of the state.
Early in that campaign Mr. Nixon announced that he would not discuss religion, nor would he allow his workers to bring the religious issue into the campaign. Mr. Kennedy, too, gave lip service to that principle; but on repeated occasions he “defended” his right to belong to the Roman Catholic Church, a point which of course was not lost on his fellow Roman Catholics. Also, his national party campaign committee made extensive and effective use of a television film and recording that was made during an appearance which he made before a group of Protestant ministers in Houston, Texas, which film had been edited to present him and his religion in a very favorable light. Whether it was wise to attempt to keep religion out of the campaign is open to question. Personally we think it was not, for two reasons: first, a man’s religion does affect his actions, particularly his conduct of an office such as the presidency; and, secondly, from a practical standpoint it clearly was impossible to suppress such an important factor.
When the facts became known it was shown that the charge of bigotry that had been brought against Protestants was for the most part groundless. The Gallup Poll, which after repeated surveys forecast the closeness of the election with remarkable accuracy, showed that the proportion of Roman Catholic Republicans who switched their votes to Kennedy was approximately twice that of the Protestant Democrats who switched to Nixon. The veteran political commentator, David Lawrence, observed that, “It is obvious that something has happened to stir up the Catholic voters and cause a big number apparently to disregard all other considerations and support the Democratic nominee, who happens to be of their faith” (The Kansas City Times, November 2, 1960). These same sources indicated that the Roman Catholic vote went about 80 percent, or approximately four to one, for Kennedy, while the Protestant vote went about 60 percent, or approximately three to two, for Nixon. An impartial post-election analysis by the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan, as published in U. S. News and World Report, May 1, 1961, reached substantially the same conclusion. Hence the evidence is that Roman Catholics showed themselves twice as “bigoted” in voting their religion as did Protestants. And certainly it is just as much an act of bigotry to vote for a man because of his religion as it is to vote against him because of his religion.
But is it bigotry to oppose the election of a Roman Catholic for president of the United States, or for other positions of influence? The basic doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church as they affect political and social life are diametrically opposed to our American ideas of freedom and democracy. The Roman Church has repeatedly condemned the separation of church and state, which is one of the basic principles of our American way of life; and it attempts to regulate even in detail the lives of its members. Roman Catholic officials are inevitably subjected to pressures from their church which could not be brought against other men. Believing that theirs is the only true church, that their eternal welfare is dependent on obedience to their church, and that it is their duty to promote their church so far as practicable, loyal Roman Catholic office holders are subject to what are sometimes unbearable pressures in the confessional and from the hierarchy at large. We submit that because of these obligations which rest in a peculiar way upon all members of that church it is unwise to entrust high office to any member of that church unless he gives convincing evidence that he will not allow his church to influence his conduct—assurance which a “good” Roman Catholic cannot give, and which a “poor” Roman Catholic should not need to give, for the simple reason that if he does not accept those principles he should not be in that church.
But further as regards the charge of bigotry as directed by the Roman Church against all who oppose it: In its announced goal to “make America Catholic,” the Roman Catholic Church proposes to force its doctrines and practices upon our nation regardless of their truth or falsity and regardless of the desires of the majority of our people. This it plans to do by silencing everyone who disagrees with it. And how does it propose to do that? One important item in that plan is to label everyone who opposes it a “bigot.” A former Roman Catholic who studied for the priesthood in a Jesuit seminary, and who knows that church well, wrote in 1957 (three years before the 1960 political campaign got under way):
“The Roman Catholic Church, whatever may be its other faults, is never lacking in shrewdness or in good strategists. … The Jesuits have urged the Catholic Church in America to label every criticism of the Roman Church as ‘bigotry’” (Christianity Today, issue of October 28).
But when the facts of history are examined Protestants stand forth clearly not as “bigots,” but as the real champions of religious and political liberty, while on the other hand Roman Catholicism has maintained a religious despotism wherever it has been in power, even to the extent of putting to death those who disagree with it. The facts are so clear that they cannot be denied. And yet the recent propaganda campaign was conducted so skillfully and persistently that the Roman Church actually came to be looked upon by many as the victim of bigotry and intolerance. When the facts are presented, the Roman Church itself stands forth as the biggest bigot of all time. In proof of that statement we submit the following. It is bigotry:
· To claim to be the only true church.
· To teach that all outside the Roman Church are lost.
· For the pope to claim infallibility, or that he is the very mouthpiece of God on earth.
· For the pope to claim for himself the title “Holy Father”—a claim which is simply blasphemous.
· For the Roman Church in its official pronouncements, such as those of the Council of Trent, to pronounce anathemas upon all who dare to differ with it.
· For the Roman Church to persecute or kill those who dare to differ with it, as it has done on so many occasions in the past.
· For the Roman Church to refer to Protestants as “heretics.”
· For the Roman Church to teach its people that it is a mortal sin to attend a Protestant church.
· For the Roman Church to restrict and persecute Protestants in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and various Latin American countries while it is accorded full freedom of religion in Protestant countries.
· For the Roman Church to teach its people that it is a mortal sin to read any Bible other than their own annotated one.
· For the Roman Church to force its premarital agreement upon Protestants who wish to marry Roman Catholics.
· For the Roman Church to teach that the marriage of a Roman Catholic and a Protestant before a Protestant minister or an official of the state is null and void, that such is only “attempted marriage,” that the parties thereafter are living in sin, and that their children are illegitimate.
· For the Roman Church to teach its people to “detest” other churches and groups, as in the pledge which converts to Romanism take as a part of the induction ceremony, which reads: “With a sincere heart, therefore, and with unfeigned faith, I detest and abjure every error, heresy and sect opposed to the said Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church.”
· For the Roman Church to maintain the Index of Forbidden Books.
· For the Roman Church in Latin America to tell its people that Protestantism and Communism are the same thing.
Many other such practices could be cited.
There is a striking parallel between the practice of the Russian Communists who, knowing themselves to be the promoters of a system which resorts to violence, untruth, treachery, and every immoral practice as it serves their purpose, attempt to cover up their shortcomings by representing themselves and their allies as the “peace loving nations” and as the champions of the world’s downtrodden masses, while accusing us of being “imperialists,” “war‑mongers,” and “militarists” who are attempting to “enslave” the less developed nations, and the practice of the Roman Catholics who, knowing that for the most part their distinctive doctrines and rituals are not found in the Bible or are even contrary to the Bible, persistently designate themselves as “the only true church,” and hurl the epithet “heretic” at all who differ with them. The Communists claim to “liberate” people when they take possession of a country, but what they actually do is to enslave them. They talk of “the People’s Democratic Republic” (e.g., of Red China and East Germany), and of the “People’s Courts” (as in Russia and China), while in fact the people of those countries have no voice at all in their government or in their courts. In similar manner the Roman Catholics, where they are in control, consider it their privilege and duty to “Christianize” or “convert” all others and to conform them to their church practices, by persuasion if possible, by force if necessary. The Communists hold that men will be free only when they are governed by the Communist state, and Roman Catholics hold that men are really Christian and can be saved only when they submit to the Roman Catholic Church and acknowledge the authority of the pope. Such terminology involves an absolute reversal of the meaning of words. Both groups, as smokescreens to cover up their own misdeeds and errors, accuse their opponents of the very things of which they know themselves to be guilty.
When Protestantism is stronger than Romanism, and when democracy is stronger than communism, the latter groups talk of tolerance and freedom. They want us to co‑exist peacefully until they become stronger than we are—then they will really put the screws on. Peaceful co‑existence means peaceful co‑existence as long as we are stronger, but when they become stronger it means peaceful submission.
A further parallel between these two groups is that the Communists often are able to do their most effective work through “pinkos” and fellow travelers, and Roman Catholics often are most effective when they can persuade gullible Protestants under the pretense of being broad‑minded and liberal to parrot their charges for them. But the facts of history are clear, and the doctrinal tenets and practices of both of those groups are a matter of public record. Any informed person knows that the terms used by both of those groups in the present controversies are falsely used, that the accusations are baseless, and that the facts are exactly the reverse of what they allege. In the light of history as manifested in the nations of Europe, the Communist charge of “war‑mongers” as brought against the democratic nations, and the Roman Catholic charge of “bigotry” as brought against Protestants, are so ridiculous that no one should be deceived by them.
Let Protestants protest orally and in writing whenever these fraudulent charges of “bigotry,” “hate‑mongering,” and “hate literature” are made over the radio, television, in public discussion, or in print, and their falsity and injustice will soon be exposed.
It has been said that,
Rome in the minority is a lamb.
Rome as an equal is a fox.
Rome in the majority is a tiger.
The Roman Church has never acknowledged that the use of force to compel obedience is wrong in principle, although she has been compelled to abandon the practice in Protestant countries and the fires of the inquisition are no longer burning. Even in those countries that have remained under her control, an enlightened public opinion indirectly influenced by Protestantism has been sufficient to bring about a considerable degree of restraint.
While in the United States the priests often are friendly to Protestants, in Romanist countries they continue to be the instigators and leaders of riots against them. Regardless of attempts by some Roman Catholics to deny that Protestants are to be hated or persecuted, the fact is that they are charged with heresy by the Roman Church; and heresy, by Roman Canon Law, is punishable by death if need be. The undeniable fact is that today Protestant ministers behind the Iron Curtain, in such countries as Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany, have more freedom to hold church services and to distribute Christian literature than they have in Spain.
Even today every Roman Catholic bishop at the time of his consecration takes an oath of allegiance to the pope which contains these words:
“With all my power I will persecute and make war upon all heretics, schismatics and those who rebel against our lord [the pope] and all his successors… So help me God and these the holy gospels of God” (Pontificale Romanum Summorum Pontificum. Belgium. Mechlin, p. 133. Cited by Emmett McLoughlin, in American Culture and Catholic Schools, p. 125).
Thomas Aquinas, prominent in the Dominican Order and the most authoritative philosopher and theologian of the Roman Church even to the present day, held that the church had the right to hunt out and kill heretics as a means of maintaining its purity. He wrote:
“Though heretics must not be tolerated because they deserve it, we must bear with them, till, by a second admonition, they may be brought back to the faith of the church. But those who, after a second admonition, remain obstinate in their errors, must not only be excommunicated, but they must be delivered to the secular power to be exterminated” (Summa Theologica, Vol. IV, p. 90).
“So far as heretics are concerned, heresy is a sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death” (Vol. II, p. 154).
And still further:
“If counterfeiters of money or other criminals are justly delivered over to death forthwith by the secular authorities, much more can heretics, after they are convicted of heresy, be not only forthwith excommunicated, but as surely put to death” (Vol. II, Q. 2, Art. 3).
Dr. Marianus de Luca, S. J., Professor of Canon Law at the Georgian University in Rome, said in his Institution of Public Ecclesiastical Law, with a personal commendation from Pope Leo XIII, in 1901:
“The Catholic Church has the right and duty to kill heretics because it is by fire and sword that heresy can be extirpated. Mass excommunication is derided by heretics. If they are imprisoned or exiled they corrupt others. The only recourse is to put them to death. Repentance cannot be allowed to save them, just as repentance is not allowed to save civil criminals; for the highest good of the church is the duty of the faith, and this cannot be preserved unless heretics are put to death.”
The official newspaper of the large Roman Catholic diocese of Brooklyn, New York, The Tablet, in its issue of November 5, 1938, declared:
“Heresy is an awful crime… and those who start a heresy are more guilty than they who are traitors to the civil government. If the State has the right to punish treason with death, the principle is the same which concedes to the spiritual authority the power of capital punishment over the arch‑traitor to truth and Divine revelation. … A perfect society has the right to its existence… and the power of capital punishment is acknowledged for a perfect society. Now… the Roman Catholic Church is a perfect society, and as such has the right and power to take means to safeguard its existence.”
In the following words by a present day American Roman Catholic theologian, Francis J. Connell, with imprimatur by Cardinal Spellman, even the right of existence is denied to other churches:
“The Catholic Church is the only organization authorized by God to teach religious truth and to conduct public religious worship. Consequently, they [Roman Catholics] hold that any creed which differs from that of the Catholic Church is erroneous, and that any religious organization which is separated from the Catholic Church lacks the approval and the authorization of God. The very existence of any other church is opposed to the command of Christ, that all men should join His one church. From this it follows that, as far as God’s law is concerned, no one has a real right to accept any religion save the Catholic Church” (pamphlet, Freedom of Worship, the Catholic Position).
These are representative samples of the “tolerance” that can be expected when the Roman Church has things its own way. Add to these the more than one hundred anathemas—“Let him be anathema,” which means, “Let him be accursed”—pronounced by the Council of Trent, the most authoritative of Roman Catholic councils, upon all who dare to differ with its pronouncements. Such violent, intemperate language in a creed which purports to set forth the basic principles of the Christian system reveals clearly the unchristian nature of the men who pretend so to speak. How alien is all of that to the noble sentiments expressed in the American Declaration of Independence, which says:
“We hold these truths to be self‑evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Pope Boniface VIII, in 1302, issued the Unam Sanctam, a document in which he claimed to be the representative of God on earth, and concurrently claimed authority over every nation and government on earth. This decree, which sets forth the doctrine of “the two swords,” reads as follows:
“In her [the Church] and within her power there are two swords, we are taught in the Gospels, namely, the spiritual sword and the temporal sword… the latter to be used for the Church, the former by the Church; the former by the hand of the priest, the latter by the hand of the princes and kings, but at the nod and sufferance of the priest. The one sword must of necessity be subject to the other, the temporal authority to the spiritual. … For truth being the witness, the spiritual power has the function of establishing the temporal power and sitting in judgment on it if it should not prove good… but if the supreme power [the papacy] deviate, it cannot be judged by man but only by God alone.”
This power of control over the two swords is assumed to be inherent in the papal office and superior to all other such powers. Men are to be compelled to submit to the Roman pontiff by the sword of the state, as wielded by kings and soldiers, but at the direction of the priesthood. This is, in fact, the traditional position of the Roman Church, that the actual persecution or execution of those judged by the church to be heretical should be done, not by the church, but by the state at the direction of the church. By such subterfuge the church seeks to escape responsibility for her crimes.
The doctrine of “the two swords” was the basis for the persecution and massacre of thousands of the Waldensians in Italy and France, one of the worst massacres having taken place in France, in 1545, when twenty‑one of their towns were burned and the inhabitants plundered, tortured, and murdered in circumstances of the utmost cruelty. Two years later the dying monarch, Francis I, remembering with bitter remorse his ultimatum to the Waldensians that they embrace Roman Catholicism or be destroyed, pleaded with his son that the men who persuaded him to that course and led the massacre be given their just deserts.
Perhaps the most notorious of all massacres was that which was carried out against the Protestants of France, beginning on St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, 1572, and continuing throughout France for five or six weeks. Some 10,000 “Huguenots,” as the French Protestants were called, were killed in Paris alone, and estimates of the number killed throughout the country run from 40,000 to 60,000. The Standard International Encyclopedia places the number at 50,000. Hundreds of thousands more fled from France to other countries. Many of their descendants eventually made their way to the United States. When the news of the massacre reached Rome church bells were rung and there was wild rejoicing in the streets. Not long before that time Germany had become Protestant, as had also parts of Switzerland; and the new movement had made such progress in France that nearly a fourth of the population was Protestant and there was a real possibility that if it remained unchecked the whole country might become Protestant. So pleased was the pope, Gregory VIII, to be rid of the Protestants in France that he ordered Te Deum’s (hymns of praise and thanksgiving) sung in the churches of Rome, and had a medal struck with his own profile on one side and the destroying angel on the other. He also sent Cardinal Ursini to convey his felicitations to the queen mother of France, Catherine de Medici, who at the promptings of the Jesuits had organized the plot. Primarily through that massacre France was preserved a Roman Catholic country, and has remained such, nominally at least, to the present day.
The Inquisition was created by the Roman Catholic Church to search out, examine, and punish heretics. Its worst excesses took place in Spain, under the inquisitor Torquemada, whose appointment was made by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1483 and confirmed by Pope Alexander VI. The Jews too were driven out of Spain by Torquemada. As Columbus set sail from Palos in 1492 for his explorations in the new world he saw other ships in the harbor taking the Jews into exile.
An earlier Spanish king, Ferdinand III of Castile (died 1252), had so pleased the Roman Church by his vigorous actions against dissenters that he was made a saint in 1671 and the church inserted in the Breviary (book of daily readings and prayers for the priests) these words in praise of him:
“He permitted no heretics to dwell in his kingdom, and with his own hands brought wood to the stake for their burning” (The Stability and Progress of Dogma, by Cardinal Lepicier, p. 202; 1910).
The Inquisition also carried on its work with great effectiveness in Italy, where thousands of Protestants were put to death simply because they would not give up their faith and become Roman Catholics. Today Spain, Italy, Portugal, and to some extent France, Quebec, and Latin America, remain the devout children of the Inquisition. That, at any rate, was the method by which whole nations were made, or kept, Roman Catholic. Indeed, when we see the medieval attitude of the hierarchy, still manifesting itself in the present day persecutions in some of those countries, we are forced to conclude that the Roman Catholic Church is either the most decadent of all anachronisms, or the most dangerous of all survivals from a past that we wish were dead and buried.
The Inquisition was Rome’s masterpiece for the control of people and nations, and the tribunal of the Inquisition has never been abolished. Today in Rome it is known as the Congregation of the Holy Office.2 It is composed of cardinals and prelates, with the pope himself as its head, and its principal work is that of maintaining the doctrines of the Roman Church against errors and heresies. The excesses of the Inquisition are no longer practiced, but the principles which made those excesses possible still are in effect. The late bishop Segura, of Seville, Spain, who was prominent in the recent persecutions in that country, said shortly before he died: “I regret I was not born in the days of the Holy Inquisition.”
2 In 1966 Pope Paul VI again changed the name to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; also known as the Doctrinal Congregation.
For another authoritative voice in Romanism let us listen to that of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order and held in high honor by the Jesuits who today are the real masters in the Roman Church. Said he:
“It would be greatly advantageous, too, not to permit anyone infected with heresy to continue in the government, particularly the supreme government, of any province or town, or in any judicial or honorary position. Finally, if it could be set forth and made manifest to all, that the moment a man is convicted or held in grave suspicion of heresy, he must not he favored with honors or wealth but put down from these benefits. And if a few examples could be made, punishing a few with the penalty of their lives, or with the loss of property and exile, so there could be no mistake about the seriousness of the business of religion, this remedy would be so much more effective. …
“It would be advisable that whatever heretical books might be found, on diligent search, in the possession of dealers or individuals, should be burned or removed from all the provinces of the kingdom. The same may be said of books written by heretics, even when not heretical themselves, such as those which treat of grammar or rhetoric or dialectic, which it seems, ought to be cast aside utterly out of hatred toward the heresy of their authors. …
“Of all rectors and public professors in universities and academies, and likewise rectors of private schools and schoolteachers as well, and even tutors, it should be required that long before being accepted in their posts they should all be found true Catholics, through examination or secret information. and should be recommended by the testimony of Catholics; and they should swear that they are and will always remain Catholics; and if any such men should be convicted of heresy, they should be severely punished if only on the grounds of perjury” (Obras Completas de San Ignacio de Loyola, edicion Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos. Translated by Dwight Cristoanos; Madrid; 1952; 880 pp.).
We need not ask ourselves what the Roman Catholic Church would do in the United States if it came into power. All we need do is to look at what it has done where it has been in power. Even the children in the parochial schools are being taught that the Roman Church has the right to suppress other churches and that it has the right to punish with death anyone who is a traitor to it. And history teaches that when people have the power they usually do what they have a right to do. Before the Reformation the Roman Church was able to quench all opposition in blood and violence. But since that time it has lived under the eyes of an alert and fiercely critical body of writers who have been free to express their opinions without fear of reprisal. But the doctrines concerning the temporal power of the pope, and the right of the Roman Church to use physical force to attain spiritual ends, have never been renounced by any pope or church council. Nor has that church ever repented of or apologized for the crimes that she has committed. An infallible church simply cannot repent.
6 Spain Today
The Protestant population of Spain today is estimated at only 20,000, about half of whom are foreigners, with a constituency of about 10,000 others who may be termed sympathizers, out of a total population of approximately 28,000,000. There are about 230 organized Protestant groups, with only 70 or 80 pastors in the entire nation. That means that Spanish Protestants number only about .07 of one percent of the population. The government is clerical-fascist. Only one political party exists, that of dictator Franco. In present day Spain Protestants are not permitted to:
- Establish a Protestant church without a license.
- Be elected to any public office, national, provincial, or municipal.
- Obtain employment as teachers in the public schools.
- Obtain employment as nurses.
- Establish a Protestant school for their children.
- Establish a theological seminary to train their ministers.
- Publish or distribute Protestant literature without a license.
- Be married in a Protestant wedding service—only civil marriage is legal for Protestants.
- Have a Protestant funeral service in many towns.
- Bury their dead in the public cemeteries.3
3 Under the much publicized religious liberty law passed by the Spanish Parliament In 1967, most of the old restrictions remain and some new ones have been added, including government supervision of non-Roman Catholic church finances and required lists of names and addresses of non-Roman Catholic church members; also, home evangelism, which is the primary practice through which the Protestant churches in Spain grow, is forbidden.
All but a few of the Protestant churches that were in existence when Franco came to power in 1936 are now closed. New churches cannot be established without government permission, which under Franco’s concordat with the Vatican is almost impossible to obtain. Meetings in private homes and in unmarked buildings are permitted within limits, but often are spied upon by the police and frequently stopped if they appear to be having too much success, that is, making converts to Protestantism.
In 1958 a Baptist minister, Jose Nunez, held services in a church that had been closed, and after a trial that attracted international attention was sentenced to a month in prison. Protestant churches are not allowed to have distinctive church architecture, nor a church bell, nor to locate on a prominent street, nor to broadcast their services by radio, nor to advertise their services in the newspapers.
Since the Franco regime came to power, the government, at the instigation of the Roman Catholic Church, has forced the closing of all Protestant schools, including the Union Theological Seminary in Madrid. Protestants are not allowed to have Christian schools even for their own children, but must send them to parochial or government controlled schools where religion is taught by priests and nuns, or obtain private schooling for them if they can afford it. The public cemeteries usually are owned or controlled by the Roman Catholic Church; Protestants are excluded from “holy ground,” and are required to bury in public plots set aside for atheists, criminals, and paupers.
Civil law in Spain conforms closely to Roman Catholic Canon Law. Protestant marriage services are illegal, and a license for a civil ceremony is difficult, sometimes impossible, to obtain if either or both parties have been baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, even in infancy, as most people in Spain have. Even if they have left the Roman Church and have become Protestants the record stands against them. They are claimed by the Roman Church unless they can “prove” that they have severed all connection with it—which places a meddlesome power of investigation not only in the hands of professional judges, if they choose to abuse it, but often in the hands of municipal justices of the peace in every town and village, many of whom are almost illiterate. Some young couples have been forced to wait for years for permits to be married outside the Roman Church. Some have gone to England or France to be married, only to find when they return that their marriages are not recognized in Spain. Protestants who press their case with court action usually obtain the permit. But that involves from $150 to $200 expense, and few can afford it.
The public professions, such as medicine, law, teaching, banking, and nursing are for the most part closed to Protestants. Often it is difficult to obtain any kind of employment unless they pay some allegiance to the Roman Church. Trusted men and women who have been employed by a firm for years have been dismissed when it has been found that they have joined a Protestant church. The unemployed and destitute find it difficult, in some cases impossible, to get public relief. Protestants in the army are not allowed to attain officer rank. Sometimes even non-Christians receive better treatment; a Moslem has been promoted to lieutenant‑general. Young men, obliged to do military service, are expected to kneel before the image of the Virgin Mary during special mass. To disobey is a military offense which may mean up to two years imprisonment. The controlled press tells the people that Protestants are not only heretics, but subversive Leftists, Communists, and Masons; and Protestants are not allowed to purchase space in the newspapers to reply to attacks made upon them. Jews too are restricted, but in general are treated better than are Protestants because they do not try to make converts. The Jews are few in number and for the most part can be ignored.
The spirit of the Inquisition still lives in Spain. It hardly seems possible that such conditions could exist in a country that professes to be Christian and civilized. But the arrogant intolerance of clericalism is ever the same. Back of these restrictions are the so‑called “charter of the Spanish People,” of 1945, and the concordat between Franco and the pope. The key clause of the Charter reads:
“The profession and practice of the Catholic religion, which is that of the State, shall enjoy official protection. No one shall be disturbed because of his religious beliefs or the private practice of his worship. No other outward ceremonies or demonstrations than those of the Catholic religion shall be permitted.”
Articles 1 and 19 respectively of the Concordat read:
“The Catholic Apostolic Roman Religion will continue to be the sole religion of the Spanish nation and will enjoy the rights and prerogatives which are due it in conformity with the Divine Law and the Canon Law. …
“The State, by way of indemnification for past confiscations of Church property and as a contribution to the Church’s work for the good of the nation, will provide the Church with an annual endowment.”
The major part of the salaries of the priests and other church officials is paid by the state. Thus Protestants and others are taxed to support a religion in which they do not believe.
If anyone has any doubt about what the Roman Catholic Church wants, we have an excellent, made‑to‑order demonstration in Franco’s Spain. There, through the working of an official concordat, Protestants are treated exactly as the pope thinks they should be treated. The Roman Church never tires of referring to what it terms “Christian Spain”; and its ideal, the establishment of the Roman Catholic religion and the elimination of all other religions, is more closely approximated in Spain than in any other present day nation. As one evangelical has expressed it, if you are a Protestant in Spain, your marriage is illegal, your children are illegitimate, and you can’t vote. What a contrast all of that is with the liberty that Roman Catholics enjoy in Protestant United States!
Concerning the Spanish situation Paul Blanshard has written:
“The same pope who appoints every bishop and cardinal in the United States also appoints every bishop and cardinal in Spain. The same pope who permits American bishops to declare in the United States that they favor the separation of Church and State in this non‑Catholic country encourages his Spanish bishops to pursue a directly opposite policy in Catholic Spain. It is the Vatican and the Franco government that jointly deny to all Protestant churches and Jewish synagogues those liberties which leaders of the church in the United States profess to believe in. Between them they have abolished both political and religious democracy by a union of church and state which is the pluperfect negation of American principles” (pamphlet, Ecclesiastical Justice in Spain).
And Walter M. Montano, writing in Christian Heritage, says:
“Spain has had a long history of intolerance. The number of victims sacrificed by the Inquisition in Spain almost exceeds credulity. Yet it has been shown by Llorente, who carefully examined the records of the Tribunal, and whose statements are drawn from the most authoritative sources, that 105,285 victims fell under the inquisitor general Torquemada; 51,167 under Cisneros; and 34,952 fell under Diego Perez. It is further reckoned that 31,912 were burned alive! Half that number, 15,659 suffered the punishment of the statute, and 291,450 were sent to penitentiaries. Half a million families were destroyed by the Inquisition, and it cost Spain two million children!”
And concerning the present day restrictions and persecutions in Spain he says:
“Let it never be forgotten that this is the heritage of the Roman Catholic Church, the end result of the dread Inquisition in a country that never knew Reformation” (September, 1959).
Small wonder it is that the Protestant population of Spain is almost infinitesimally small! And yet in spite of all of these persecutions and abuses, the Protestant United States continues to pour into Spain great sums of relief money as well as supplies distributed by voluntary relief agencies. Under the Eisenhower administration nonmilitary aid has been at the rate of more than $200,000,000 a year (Church and State, September, 1959). The United States maintains military bases in Spain, and the military aid has been vast and varied. Our governmental officials know of the abuses practiced there—such have been called to their attention many times. The clerical‑fascist government of Spain has been bankrupt for years, and has been able to survive only because of American aid. The United States, therefore, has been responsible for its continuance. Back of this policy, of course, is the political influence of the Roman Catholic Church on our government in Washington. This American branch of the Roman Church is not only a friend of the Franco regime, but is an integral part of that world system which makes such regimes possible and supports them.
7 Italy, Yugoslavia
In Italy there are approximately 300,000 Protestants in a population of 50,000,000, a ratio of about 1 to 165. The Inquisition there, too, did its work almost as ruthlessly as in Spain. Since the Second World War, Protestant work in Italy has increased to some extent.
The new Italian Constitution, adopted under pressure from the western democracies after the Second World War, declared for freedom of religion. But practical considerations, primarily the power of the Roman Catholic Church, have made it ineffective much of the time. However, in 1958 there were two different court decisions which were favorable to Protestants. The Constitutional High Court, Italy’s highest tribunal, invalidated a provision in Italian law which made it necessary to secure a government permit to operate a house of worship such as was required under the concordat that was signed between Mussolini and the Vatican and which had been continued in force ever since. And in another case a complaint had been brought by Roman Catholic owners of an estate against three Protestant tenant farmers who had refused to permit a local priest to bless their cattle. The court decision was in favor of the defendants, and declared: “If a citizen associates himself with another citizen of different religious creed he must not force on him the rites of his own faith with regard to things that concern both of them.”
Protestants in Italy have found it almost impossible to establish schools for their children even in the primary grades, despite the desperate need for schools throughout the country. Before the 1958 decision Protestants were not allowed to put signs on their churches designating them as such.
To post such signs was an illegal “public display” of religion, and the police promptly tore them down and arrested the people responsible.
On the other hand, within the Roman Catholic Church early in 1960, a new “constitution” for the diocese of Rome was proclaimed by Pope John XXIII tightening the ecclesiastical discipline for both priests and laymen. This is the pope’s own diocese, and its provisions usually are followed in other dioceses throughout the world. Among other things it forbids laymen to join or vote for political parties or persons disapproved by the Roman Church, under threat of excommunication; forbids them to enact any laws detrimental to the Roman Church; and makes them liable to excommunication if they support doctrines or ideas in the press or publicly which differ from those of the Roman Catholic Church.
In Italy remarks concerning the pope which the Vatican considers “slanderous” are punishable by law. Article 297 of the Italian Penal Code provides sentences up to three years for “whoever on Italian territory offends the honor and prestige of the head of a foreign state”—the pope in Vatican City qualifies as the head of a foreign state. In December, 1960, an Italian newspaper editor was given a five‑month suspended sentence for asserting that the pope and the hierarchy had acted unconstitutionally by interfering in Italian civil affairs when its daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, upheld the right of the Roman Church to “guide the faithful” through ecclesiastical directives concerning political affairs.
In Yugoslavia there occurred during the Second World War one of the cruelest episodes in history, in the massacre of Eastern Orthodox Serbs by Roman Catholic Croats, in an effort to make the province of Croatia solidly Roman Catholic. So hideous were the massacres that they surpass even those of the Duke of Alva in the Netherlands and those of St. Bartholomew’s day in France. Most astonishing was the manner in which those crimes were ignored or hushed up at the time by the news services even in the United States, although similar massacres of Jews in Germany were given the widest publicity—another demonstration of how subtly and efficiently Roman clericalism exerts its influence over the press and radio. But now a French author, Edmond Paris, who was born a Roman Catholic, has told the story in his fully documented books, The Vatican Against Europe (1959, translated 1961) and Genocide in Satellite Croatia (1959, translated 1960). Another French author, Herve Lauriere, also a Roman Catholic by birth, has recorded the same events in his Assassins in the Name of God. Both Paris and Lauriere put the responsibility squarely on the priests of the Church of Rome.
By way of background, after the First World War the Roman Catholic states of Croatia and Slovenia were united with the Eastern Orthodox state of Serbia to form the nation of Yugoslavia. Croatia had approximately 5,000,000 Roman Catholics and 3,000,000 Eastern Orthodox. At once the Croats began to intrigue against the Serbs. Terrorist Ustashi bands were organized. They received support from Mussolini, who financed them. When king Alexander I of Yugoslavia visited France in 1934, he was assassinated at Marseilles. The leader of the gang was Ante Pavelich, who escaped to Italy where Mussolini gave him protection and refused to surrender him to the Yugoslav government although he was convicted of the crime in both French and Yugoslav courts.
When in 1941 the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia, the Croats, with Pavelich as their leader, joined them. As a reward Hitler made Pavelich the puppet head of the new “Independent State of Croatia.” His minister of religion was Andrija Artukovic, another Roman Catholic. Then began a war of suppression or extermination of all Serbs and Jews. Nearly 10,000 of the 80,000 Jews in the new state were killed or forced to flee, their property being confiscated. Official records and photographs show that Pavelich and Archbishop Stepinac were closely associated in governmental, social, and ecclesiastical affairs. Stepinac was appointed supreme military apostolic vicar of the Ustashi army led by Pavelich. He was, therefore, in a position to know of the atrocities that were constantly taking place.
In May, 1941, after innumerable massacres had been committed, Pavelich went to Rome and was received by Pope Pius XII, and on the same occasion signed a treaty with Mussolini. In June of that year more than 100,000 Orthodox Serbian men, women, and children were killed by the Ustashi. In all some 250 Orthodox churches were destroyed or turned over to Roman Catholic parishes and convents. Documents requesting and authorizing such transfers are now in the state prosecutor’s office at Zagreb and Sarajevo, bearing the signature of Archbishop Stepinac. In February, 1942, a Te Deum was sung in Stepinac’s church in Zagreb, the then capital of Croatia, with special honors paid to Pavelich. In a pastoral letter Stepinac declared that in spite of complexities, what they were seeing in Croatia was “the Lord’s work,” and called on his priests to support Pavelich. Stepinac twice visited Pope Pius XII, in Rome, in 1942. He reported that 244,000 Serbs had accepted (forced) conversion to Roman Catholicism. So the pope, too, was well informed as to what was going on in Serbia and Croatia. Edmond Paris places the total number of men, women, and children killed by the Ustashi during the four years of the occupation at more than 500,000 (The Vatican Against Europe, p. 224).
When it became necessary for the Nazis to retreat from Yugoslavia, Pavelich, Artukovic, and almost all of the Roman priests went with them. After the war ended Yugoslav courts sentenced Stepinac to sixteen years imprisonment for his Nazi-Fascist collaboration. After serving five years he was released, but was kept under house arrest. The pope, however, rewarded his services by naming him a cardinal. Until his death in 1960, he was played up in Roman Catholic circles, particularly in the United States, as a “martyr,” even to the extent that Cardinal Spellman, in New York, named a parochial high school after him.
Pavelich again fled to Italy, where for some time he lived in disguise as a monk in a monastery, and later escaped to Argentina. Artukovic too avoided capture, and eventually entered the United States under a false name and with a forged certificate of identity from Southern Ireland, and settled in California. Both Pavelich and Artukovic successfully resisted all efforts of the Yugoslav government to extradite them as war criminals. Pavelich eventually returned to Spain, where he died in 1960. Los Angeles newspapers reported that through two court trials the principal support for Artukovic to prevent his extradition came from the Roman Catholic Church, of which he had been a lifelong member. So reads another chapter of church‑state intrigue as dark as any played out during the Middle Ages. Let it also be noted that both Hitler and Mussolini were Roman Catholics, but that despite their crimes against humanity neither was ever excommunicated, nor even severely censured, by the Roman Church.
8 Latin America
The most glaring example of persecution in our western hemisphere in recent years, and continuing to some extent to the present day, is found in the nation of Colombia. There a reactionary government with the support of the Roman Catholic Church came into power in 1948. A concordat was signed with the Vatican, under which severe restrictions were placed on Protestants. Sixty percent of the country was declared “mission territory” and closed to Protestant work of any kind. During this period 116 Protestants have been killed, 66 Protestant churches or chapels have been burned or bombed, and over 200 Protestant schools have been closed. (Report of the Evangelical Confederation of Colombia, Bulletin No. 50; June 26, 1959). Protestants, however, have refused to acknowledge the validity of the concordat, because certain features of it are in open violation of the Colombian constitution, and it has never been submitted to the congress for ratification as is required by law for all treaties with foreign powers. Evidently its supporters doubt that they could secure ratification. But the course that has been followed by the Roman Church in Colombia in recent years seems to have had the full approval of the Vatican, for the archbishop of Bogotá was promoted to cardinal by Pope John XXIII in December, 1960.
Originally all of Latin America was intolerant toward Protestantism. But during the past fifty years the area as a whole, through more or less open conflict with the Roman Church, has been moving toward religious freedom. Some of the countries now have almost as much freedom of religion as is found in the United States. Practically all of the Latin American nations, following the example of the United States, have written into their constitutions articles guaranteeing freedom of religion. But the continuing power of the Roman Church often makes their enforcement impractical or impossible. About half have separation of church and state. In general the people are proud of this liberalism and resent the machinations of the reactionary minority which in some areas is trying to restore the old order.
Almost invariably the anti‑Protestant demonstrations and riots that have taken place have been incited or led by local priests. In some areas the priests have undue influence with the civil officials, police, editors, and radio executives, and too often it happens even yet that the most powerful man in a Latin American town is not the mayor, nor the chief of police, but the Roman Catholic priest who controls them both. But the Roman Catholic people, if left to their own desires, prefer to live in peace with their Protestant neighbors. One telephone call from the pope could put an end to all of the harassment, slander, and opposition on the part of his priests within an hour if such were his desire. But no such call ever comes. The responsibility for continued persecution rests squarely with him.
For the most part the masses of the Latin American people, sensing the superstition and sham connected with the only kind of religion that they have ever known, have forsaken it and have become largely agnostic to all religion. The laboring class has become largely anti‑Catholic, as have also the educated classes. The colleges and universities, though few in number, are largely independent and impartial as regards religion. As even North American Roman Catholics know only too well if they are willing to admit it, the Latin American Roman Catholic Church has proved to be one of the major spiritual derelictions in the history of Christianity.
In colonial days the Roman Church became a powerful political force. Vast amounts of land and wealth came into its hands, and complaints were often heard about the excess accumulation of wealth on the part of the clergy. The Inquisition was transplanted to Latin America—the original “Gestapo,” as John Gunther calls it—and every movement of the mind toward new truth and greater freedom was immediately crushed out. Clerical politicians helped maintain the hold of the church on the masses, while the church in turn supported their ambitions. With few exceptions the Latin American dictators have been aided by the church, and in turn have given their support to it. These are simply the facts of history, part of the heavy impedimenta under which Latin America began her struggle toward freedom.
For years the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States, through the power that it was able to exert on our government and through the press and radio, carried on an aggressive campaign to discredit Protestant mission work in Latin America and to deprive American Protestant churches of their right to carry on missionary work there. They sought to create the impression that such missions were not needed and not wanted by the people. Strong pressure was brought to bear on the State Department to refuse passports to Protestant missionaries, while at the same time every facility was placed at the disposal of Roman priests and nuns who applied for such passports. Repeatedly Protestant mission board secretaries tried to find out why their missionaries were discriminated against. This was particularly the situation in the 1930’s and 1940’s, during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. But fortunately Protestantism is now making progress in almost all parts of Latin America. A new day is dawning for the church in most of those lands. The old feudal system, with its few large land owners and the poor peasant masses, is crumbling. A new middle class is emerging.
Many Latin Americans find it difficult to understand why the United States took part in the destruction of the Spanish Republic in the late 1930’s, why it refused to sell supplies to the legitimate nationalist government and by so doing enabled Franco, with help from Mussolini and Hitler, to overthrow that government. They also find it hard to understand why so often our influence has been on the side of the dictators in the Latin American republics instead of following the principles that inspired the democratic founders of our nation. It became almost a fixed policy for this nation to appoint Roman Catholic ambassadors and consuls to represent it in Latin America. Such men obviously were unfitted properly to represent a Protestant nation in its dealings with other nations. In this connection both Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Truman showed themselves very responsive to Roman Catholic pressures. Mr. Roosevelt, for instance, in defiance of public opinion, appointed a personal representative to the Vatican, with a $12,000 a year allowance. And Mr. Truman proceeded to nominate an American ambassador to the Vatican, receiving, of course, an ambassador in return, and to have congress make that a permanent diplomatic arrangement. But the plan was defeated in the Senate. It is difficult to explain to our South American neighbors the machinations of the Roman Catholic Church in Washington and why the hierarchy should have such a big influence in our government. But certainly it is not unreasonable for them to expect that our foreign policy would reflect those principles of religious and civil liberty which have contributed so much to this nation’s greatness.
Actually the competition that the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America has received from Protestantism has been a stimulus to it. When it held a monopoly as the state religion in most of those countries and other churches were excluded, it stagnated and decayed. But as has been the case in the United States where it is faced with an alert Protestantism, in recent years it has been forced to give better service, to build more and better schools and hospitals, and to provide better trained priests and nuns. In many Latin American countries two thirds or more of the priests regularly have come from Spain. Separation of church and state, though strongly opposed by the Roman Church, has been for it a blessing in disguise both in the United States and in Latin America.
Ask the average thoughtful Latin American, “What is Latin America’s most serious problem?” and the answer usually is: “The spiritual problem.” Far from opposing Protestant missions, most Latin Americans welcome them and see in Protestantism many elements that they desire for their own religious life but which they do not find in Roman Catholicism. Many of them have reacted bitterly against a religion based on ignorance and superstition, and realize that what their people desperately need is a religion that is more than formalism, a faith that issues in purity of life and in strengthened moral character.
George P. Howard, in his book, Religious Liberty in Latin America, written a generation ago, said:
“Nowhere is Christianity so devoid of inner content or real spiritual life as in Latin America. There is a vast difference between the Latin American Catholic Church and the Roman Catholicism of Northern Europe or North America.”
And then he adds:
“Never has Christianity had such a magnificent missionary opportunity as was given the Roman Catholic Church in the period of the conquest and colonization of the Indies, as Latin America was then called. The field was wide open, support from the civil authorities was complete, no other rival church was on the ground, there was no opposition. And yet, after four centuries of undisturbed possession, the Christianization of the continent still lags. It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that Latin America is Christianity’s most shocking failure” (p. 42; The Westminster Press, Philadelphia; 1944).
Concerning the relation of the schools in Latin America to Christianity, Mr. Howard says:
“A very large proportion of the student and educated classes as well as the new middle class, which is just emerging in Latin America, has not been won to Christianity. These people are traditionally indifferent and even hostile to religion. To be religious or to go to church is still the sign of inferiority among the large numbers of the intellectuals. They threw off the shackles of obscurantist religious faith weighted with superstition and they have not yet been shown that a man can be a Christian and preserve his intellectual respectability. Will Durant remarked that ‘the failure of the Reformation to capture France left Frenchmen no halfway house between infallibility and infidelity.’ The reaction in university centers of Latin America against religion and all that was reminiscent of churchly influence was so radical that all forms of academic garb were barred. It is necessary to go to Protestant countries to find the cap and gown in use” (p. 28).
In Colombia, where Roman Catholic persecution of Protestants has been worst during the past 12 years, a recent survey by the Ministry of Education shows that 42 percent of the entire Colombian population is illiterate, that only 44 percent of the children of primary age are enrolled in any school, and that a serious shortage of schools and teachers exists. And yet during these past 12 years the Roman Church, which poses as the guardian of education in that nation, has forced the closing of more than 200 Protestant mission schools. The attitude of the Colombian Roman Catholic Church is: Better an illiterate Colombian than one educated by Protestant teachers.The Director of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) has said:
“In 1956, the average level of education for Latin America as a whole did not exceed the first grade; those who did enter school did not stay, on an average, beyond the fourth grade. After the first three years UNESCO, with the grudging support of most of the Latin American governments, could count nearly 25 million children at school (some 19 million still get no schooling at all) and 90 thousand more teachers at work in new classrooms. The major project is scheduled to run until 1968; on the horizon, by the end of the decade, is the goal: Decent primary education for every child in Latin America” (Quoted in Christian Heritage, May, 1961; p. 6).
Commenting on this situation, Stuart P. Garver, editor of Christian Heritage, says:
“The deficiencies of Roman Catholic education are of such a nature that an aroused national spirit retaliates against the Church like a man reacts upon discovering he has been cheated by some slick salesman. … The failure of the hierarchy to educate for responsible exercise of freedom by the people themselves has produced a world-wide pattern of trouble for Catholic education” (May, 1961).
Undoubtedly the present trouble in Cuba is to be explained in part by this very cause. The Roman Church in that island, which under earlier regimes enjoyed a favored position and which always has had control of education, sensed that change in the political and social areas threatened its position. It opposed the revolutionary movement and encouraged student demonstrations against it. Castro in turn took over the schools and carried the movement over into Communism—a not unfamiliar pattern where the people have known no church other than the Roman. Castro himself is a member of that church, as are 90% of the Cuban people. By a strange anomaly Roman Catholicism fights Communism, but, because of the ignorance and poverty that develop in Roman Catholic countries, has itself become a seedbed for Communism. On more than one occasion this has proved to be a serious embarrassment for the hierarchy.
And yet in both Europe and Latin America our government officials, in a more or less open bid for the Roman Catholic vote in this country, have been backing dictatorial and oppressive governments with generous American aid. Dee Smith stated this problem well when he wrote that we have…
“…a State Department which deliberately backs with American tax dollars the Roman Catholic party in foreign countries against much more liberal and democratic non‑Catholic elements, a State Department which sanctions with silence outright tyrannies, pouring millions into countries where persecution of Protestants is in full swing while exacting no promise whatever that such persecution will cease. In fact, our State Department takes a position which cannot fail to be recognized by both persecutors and persecuted as tacit endorsement of religious persecution” (Christian Heritage, May, 1960).
9 Contrast between the British-American and the Southern European-Latin American Cultures
How are we to explain the glaring contrast that over the centuries has developed and which continues to manifest itself so prominently between Protestant and democratic Britain and the United States on the one hand and the Roman Catholic countries of southern Europe and Latin America on the other? The former are known for the stability of their governments, the latter for the ease and rapidity with which they overthrow their governments. Mr. Howard has given an explanation that is for the most part unknown even to Protestants, but which we believe lies at the very heart of the matter. He first calls attention to the difficulty that the people in southern Europe and Latin America have even today in governing themselves, and points out that the political institutions in those countries are largely servile copies of Anglo‑Saxon models. A constitutional monarchy such as existed for a time in Spain and Italy, the republics of France and Portugal, or the federal governments in Latin America are only imitations, and poor ones at that, of the constitutional forms found in Great Britain and the United States. The Anglo‑Saxons have been able to carry forward and strengthen political institutions which the Latins have found almost unworkable.
“The Latins and the Anglo-Saxons,” says Mr. Howard, “have followed two different traditions whose synthesis has never yet been accomplished. The one is the Greco-Roman classic tradition. The other is the Hebrew-Christian tradition. The democracies were the product of Christianity. The classic tradition made no contribution. Democracy did not exist in the Greek republics. They were true aristocracies, or oligarchies, composed of a minority that exercised authority over a great mass of slaves on whose labor that handful of citizens lived. Even less democracy can be found in the imperial tradition of Rome.
“Democracy has existed, and can exist, only among men who believe in but one God, in human equality and fraternity. A political democracy has never yet appeared outside of the bounds of Christianity nor will it prosper where ‘personal religion’ is unknown.
“The seed of Christianity fell among the Latin people of Europe and with the development of this new spiritual leaven, a movement toward democracy was started. Then came the Renaissance with the powerful resurrection of interest in the Greco-Roman pagan culture and ideals. The pagan aspect of the Renaissance never reached the northern countries of Europe with much strength. But southern Europe fell under the spell of the new culture. No enthusiasm was felt in the northern countries for the pagan aspects of the Renaissance hence it never took such deep root. The Renaissance had the tragic effect in the Latin countries of killing the incipient movement toward democracy which Christianity had started.
“In the northern countries Christianity was able to continue its quiet work. Thus the Reformation appeared, and we must not forget that, just as the Renaissance meant the coming to life of the old paganism, so part of the deep significance of the Protestant Reformation lies in the fact that it was a strong protest against the pagan elements that were so powerfully leavening life in the countries of southern Europe.
“As a reaction against this pagan tendency of their day, some great spiritual personalities appeared in Latin countries, but they constituted only a small majority. The trouble with Latin America is that neither the saving influence of these great Latin mystics nor the invigorating breezes of the Reformation ever reached its lands. Only the spirit of the Renaissance, the materialism and vanity of a superficial culture, reached South America. The vast majority of those who landed on the shores of the southern continent were dominated by the sensual pagan influences of the Renaissance. The settlement of the continents of North and South America thus assumed widely divergent patterns” (pp. 103-105).
To the same effect an editorial which appeared in the great daily, La Prenza, in Buenos Aires, in October, 1943, summarized these two different historical trends and interpreted them:
“Let it not be forgotten that the stream of immigration that flowed toward the northern continent was entirely spontaneous. In lands that fell to the Spanish crown immigration was of a totally different sort. To North America went groups of settlers who on their own initiative left their native lands seeking freedom, and above all freedom of conscience…
“Here on our continent, on the other hand, a different system was established and very diverse also were the effects of three centuries spent under the authority of the mother country. Absolutism characterized the government. Everything that was fundamental was kept under the control of the sovereign with the advice of the Crown Councils. Immigration was limited only to those of Hispanic origin and those who professed the religious faith which not only dominated the Spanish peninsula but which excluded all other faiths. Education was so completely neglected by the government that at the commencement of the 19th century the number of literates among the population was very scarce.
“The influence of all these diverse factors weighed heavily on our slow and painful social and economic revolution, which never went very far beyond the most rudimentary conditions. Thus poorly equipped were we on the eve of our struggle for independence.
“There we have the great results of the two different policies; the one held liberty as its norm, the other exercised its greatest zeal in suffocating the most elementary manifestations of liberty.”
Another Latin‑American statement emphasizing the religious variance between North and South America was published in America, a liberal magazine in Havana, Cuba (May, 1943). It said:
“As the history of the Americas has developed in two different ways, so there are two different types of Christianity in the new world. Anglo America is a child of the Reformation: Latin America is the product of Catholic sculpturing. … The thirteen American colonies were founded by pilgrims who fled from religious and political intolerance and who reached the shores of America with the purpose of establishing a new society based on respect and liberty for man. Their first governments were pure democracies and a very significant detail is the fact that the first assemblies of those simple austere colonials for the purpose of dealing with the affairs of government were held in the same buildings that served as a place of worship. Such was the intimate relation between their faith and their social and political ideas.
“Latin America is the reverse of the coin. Among us Roman Catholicism has always been incompatible with democracy. During the period of the conquest and in colonial times the official religion served the purpose of weakening the conscience so that the people would more easily tolerate despotism and be more ductile under oppression. Clerical and absolutist Spain employed the physical force of her soldiers and the moral influence of her priests in a perfect partnership which led to the enchaining of these embryonic settlements and their more easy exploitation. Democracy appeared in our lands in answer to the intuitive cry of popular agony and under the inspiration of Anglo‑Saxon democracy and the emotional impulse of the French Revolution. In the North democracy was born under the shadow of religion; here, among us, it appeared in spite of religion.”
In these penetrating analyses we have the problem of Latin America. It is the problem of a bad start—religiously, politically, economically, and socially. We may add further that the Spanish Inquisition had the effect of developing a hard, ruthless character, and that this was reflected in Spain’s treatment of her colonies. The Inquisition sanctified cruelty in the service of the church. Having become accustomed to plundering and murdering their neighbors whose orthodoxy was questionable, they did not hesitate to deal ruthlessly and selfishly with their colonists, and particularly with the Indians whose land they had seized. The uncivilized natives could be enslaved and plundered at will. The conquistadors had not been nurtured in a religion that issued in ethical living and moral character. The cross and the sword were supposed to advance together. Usually the sword led the advance. Latin America had a bad start.
We want to emphasize again that the Roman Catholicism that we see in the United States is not representative Roman Catholicism, but a modified form that has been greatly influenced by our ideals of democracy and freedom and which has adjusted itself to life with a Protestant majority. And still more important, it has been influenced by evangelical moral standards. Romanism has the ability to compromise and adjust itself to conditions as it finds them. It has, for example, one form in Spain, another in England, another in France, another in Latin America, and still another in the United States. For the sake of expediency and for the time being it acquiesces in the American principle of freedom of religion, while at the same time working to change this system.
We call particular attention to two facts, mentioned earlier: (1) every Roman Catholic nation in the world today is bankrupt; (2) every Roman Catholic nation in the world today is looking to Protestant United States for help, in the economic, social, educational, and financial spheres. We submit, therefore, that in view of the incomparably greater progress that this nation has made through the relatively short 186 years of its national existence, with a free church in a free state, surely the logical course would be for the Roman Catholic nations to follow our example and grant full freedom of religion to their people, not for us to follow theirs in granting a religious monopoly to one church and in denying freedom of religion to the people.
In the United States our Constitution clearly forbids any establishment of religion. That clearly means separation of Church and State. On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court in two related cases strongly reaffirmed that position as regards State aid to Church schools, by decisions of 8 to 0 and 8 to 1. Fortunately in this country we have never had a tax on religion or a tax for religion. We want to keep it that way! No man should be taxed to promote another man’s religion.
One of the most effective ways to establish a Church is to finance it. That may be done either directly or through its projects. If the people of a Church will not support its projects, then clearly those projects should be dropped. Surely when a Church has to call in the sheriff and resort to force to collect its money, it is in effect if not in reality a spiritually dead Church and is not worthy of support.
We submit further that as regards our western hemisphere, what Latin America needs more than anything else is not more foreign aid from the United States, nor more priests from Spain and Portugal, but a change of religion, specifically a change to evangelical Christianity; and that not until such a change takes place can there be substantial and permanent progress in those nations.
A System Tested by its Fruits
- A Fixed Pattern
- The Present Problem
- Is the Roman Catholic Church a True Church?
1 A Fixed Pattern
The Roman Church has long boasted that she never changes—Semper Idem, “Always the Same,” is her motto. We accept that motto at face value, not that she has not changed or added to the Christian faith which she inherited from the apostolic church, for she certainly has done that; but that the Roman Church has now been frozen into a definite pattern from which she cannot change and which is basically the same today as it was in the days of the Inquisition. What sometimes looks like change is merely a policy of caution which she has been forced to adopt because of public opinion. She changes her methods, but not her spirit. Her Canon Law has not undergone any essential change, nor has her ancient policy of suppressing or persecuting those who differ with her. No pope has ever declared himself in favor of freedom of religion or issued a decree to that effect, nor has the Roman Church ever established a free society anywhere. In view of what the Roman Church teaches her children in the parochial schools concerning her mission as the only true church, her right to suppress all other religions by force if necessary, together with her political and economic policies in those lands where she presently is in control, why should anyone doubt that a new Inquisition merely awaits the supremacy of Roman power when it will again burn and pillage and slaughter the “heretics”—all in the name of religion as it did in the earlier ages? Her position is that that which opposes her, that which she terms “error,” has no rights, and that its mere existence is a crime against the Catholic state. If and when the time comes to “make America Catholic,” there is no reason to believe that she would hesitate to use her traditional methods. There is far too much history behind the Roman Catholic Church for us to believe otherwise.
It is hard to believe that Christianity actually has in its record the dark chapters of persecution that we read of. But the facts cannot be denied. How much better and how much more in the real spirit of Christianity it would be if the Roman Church, instead of opposing the evangelical faith with the base methods of intolerance, bigotry, and persecution, would bend her efforts cooperatively to instruct her people, and unbelievers as well, in the basic truths of the Christian faith! But no matter how sincerely and Scripturally Protestants preach the Gospel, Romanists force them to stop if they have the power to do so.
The Christian method of promoting the faith is persuasive, kindly, and peaceable. It seeks to win people by love and by the power of truth. As Dr. Woods has said:
“Persecution on account of religious belief is both foolish and wicked. It is foolish because the use of force never makes an honest man change his beliefs. His convictions are really deepened by suffering for conscience sake. Only weak men yield to persecution, and are made hypocrites by it; they profess to change their faith merely to escape torture. It is wicked because it is unjust and cruel. Torture, imprisonment, confiscation of property, disgrace and death, not only cause suffering to the individual, but also to his innocent family and friends” (Our Priceless Heritage, p. 181).
Most Roman Catholic people, in the United States at least, have no animosity toward their Protestant neighbors and no desire to persecute them. Most of the people do not know what the traditional policy and practice of their church is. And they know practically nothing of the 2,414 statutes embodied in their Canon Law. Unfortunately they have no part in determining policy. Policy is imposed on them and they are indoctrinated by the hierarchy as the occasion arises. Since they have been taught from childhood that their salvation is dependent on obedience to the church, it is extremely difficult for any organized resistance to develop within the Roman Church. Some may become indifferent or even leave their church when policies which violate their consciences are put into effect. But it is a rare thing for Roman Catholics to organize and resist their church openly.
Protestantism does not fear competition. It does not need to persecute. It believes that true religion is too strong to be shaken by the attacks of atheists, doubters, or advocates of rival religions. It asks no special aid from the state, either to suppress its rivals or to pay its bills, but only to be left free, that it may present its case openly and fairly. That there have been instances in which Protestants persecuted Roman Catholics is not to be denied. Romanists point to these and attempt to make much of them in their own defense. But such persecutions have been comparatively few and comparatively mild, and in most instances in retaliation for wrongs inflicted by the Roman Church. But most important of all, such persecutions have been in violation of basic Protestant principles. No Protestant persecutions have even remotely approached those of the Inquisition in Spain, the extermination of the Waldensians in Italy, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in France, or the recent slaughter in Yugoslavia, to mention only a few.
There is scarcely anything more destructive of national unity than religious intolerance. National unity flourishes in an atmosphere of peace, fraternity, and tolerance. This is demonstrated, for instance, in the United States when after a national election all differences are put aside and the outgoing and incoming administrations cooperate in a friendly way for the orderly transfer of the powers of government. In the 186 years since the founding of this nation we have never had a governmental change that was brought about by force. The British, Dutch, and Scandinavian governments, too, have been very stable, continuing over periods of centuries. But what a contrast these governments present with the unstable governments of southern Europe and the Latin American countries, where in almost every nation such changes occur repeatedly! At the basis of political stability and freedom, and giving permanence to it, is religious faith and religious freedom.
The unity and prosperity of a country depends upon the freedom and diversity with which its religious, economic, educational, and cultural life is allowed to develop. The United States, with the most Protestantism and the most religious freedom, has the highest standard of living of any nation in the world and has brought more of the good things of life to the rank and file of its people than has any other nation. At the opposite extreme as regards these features is Spain, with the most Roman Catholicism, the least religious freedom, and the lowest standard of living in Europe. Spain is held together only by a military dictatorship, and is really one of the most disunited nations in the world. Even Roman Catholicism prospers most and is at its best in Protestant lands. What further proof is needed to show the superiority of religious freedom over religious bigotry and intolerance?
2 The Present Problem
We have now examined the distinctive features of Roman Catholicism and have found that each one of them is false and truly formidable in its consequences of leading people astray from the Gospel. These things have been shown to be not peripheral but to concern the very heart of the Christian message as set forth in the New Testament. To an unbelievable extent Rome has apostatized from the faith. While she has been so quick to hurl the epithet “heretic” at others, she herself is honeycombed with heresies.
All of this is a strong indictment of the Roman system. But it is no stronger than the facts justify. How incredible that a religious system so obviously false as judged by the standard of Scripture should attain such power, hold that power for centuries, and be so widespread as the Roman system is today!
We have attempted to show that the Achilles heel of Romanism is the false theological basis on which the system rests, and that the strength of evangelical Protestantism is its rigid adherence to what the Scriptures teach. Protestantism can never defeat Romanism, nor even defend itself against Romanism, merely by pointing out the latter’s corrupt political alliances, its inordinate greed for money, and its suppression of political and religious liberties. All of these things are true and should be exposed. But they relate only to external methods and practices. Romanism is basically a religious system and must be challenged and forced to defend its doctrines on the basis of Scripture. This method, and this method alone, can bring victory to the evangelical faith.
We have shown that Romanism, in distinction from other churches, is a dual system, a church and a political state. Its appeal to the rank and file of its members is religious in nature. On that basis it asks for their loyalty and their financial support. But the hierarchy is primarily a political organization, constantly trying to exert its power through civil agencies at the national, state, and local level. It wants the state to support its churches, schools, hospitals, and other institutions. It also wants the state to help enforce its religious principles by restricting and suppressing all opposition.
The time has come to put aside false tolerance and to let the world know the facts about Romanism. The public has been duped too long, and it must be given the facts that it may know what is true Christianity and what is falsely so called. Before the true Christian doctrines of the evangelical faith can be accepted, the false and unscriptural doctrines of Romanism must be bluntly exposed and its superstitions destroyed. Protestants must be made to see the great danger that threatens them. The hierarchy makes no secret of the fact that it is out to “make America Catholic.” The Knights of Columbus, at the direction of the hierarchy, spend millions of dollars for propaganda in newspaper and magazine advertising. The hierarchy seeks to gain control, and to a remarkable degree is gaining control, by placing its agents in key positions in the government, the press, radio, television, movies, education, and labor movements, all over the nation. And for the most part Protestants are fast asleep!
We must, therefore, be prepared to engage in controversy. We possess a priceless heritage in Protestant America, “the American dream,” as some here have termed it; the “Golden Land,” as some in other countries call it—something God has given us, not something formulated in the minds of men. The Scriptures exhort us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). We must carry the battle to our adversaries. Not one Roman Catholic in a hundred, priest or layman, knows the true story of his own church. They are forbidden to read the truth. What they are given under the name of “Catholic Truth” is a gross perversion of theology, church history, science, and secular history. There are millions of Roman Catholics who were born and raised in that church but who find its doctrines of Mariolatry and papal dominance repugnant to the Scriptures, to common sense, and to all concepts of freedom and democracy. There are millions who haven’t been to mass for years and who are quite ready to say that they do not believe the doctrines of their church. Many of these can be won to the Gospel. Yet they are almost completely ignored, or even shunned, by Protestants.
One who signs himself “A Former Jesuit Trainee,” tells us:
“When Luther rang the tocsin bell, thousands of disillusioned Catholic believers of his day rallied to him. They came out of the church by the thousands—nuns, priests, monks, lay people. Early Protestantism didn’t hesitate to say exactly where, when and how they thought the pope had erred in interpreting the Bible. They did not hesitate to condemn the Vatican’s amoral politics, and its greed for gold. Thousands of Catholics listened and followed the Protestant Reformers. More thousands would have had not the church used the power of the state to threaten with death all heretics within Italy, Spain and other areas. Only ruthless use of the sword saved Rome.
“The Roman Church in free America ought to be challenged by Protestants to defend her dogmas, particularly her bigoted assertion that she alone is the true church of Christ. The type of bigotry which is taught in Catholic parochial schools should be castigated as a positive subversion of America’s heritage of freedom—which it is.
“If the Roman Catholic Church were compelled to engage in debate in the free forum of ideas, if her communicants were regularly presented with the Protestant side of issues as well as the Catholic, she would soon be on the defensive. It cannot hold the minds of its adherents if they are given freedom of choice. … Rome would lose adherents by the millions in free America if she had to defend her dogmas” (Christianity Today, October 28, 1957).
Protestantism must meet this challenge if it is to survive. Many Protestants have been misled into a form of Modernism or Liberalism which stresses a social gospel and tends to ignore the supernatural. Christians in all the churches should return to and confess their faith in the basic doctrines of the Scriptures, as set forth, for instance, in the Apostles’ Creed, and reassert their belief in the Bible as the uniquely inspired and authoritative Word of God. A skeptical Protestantism can be no match for a dogmatic Romanism. We need a return to Bible study, to catechism instruction, and to faithful ministers of the Gospel who preach individual regeneration by the grace of God through faith in the vicarious, substitutionary atonement of Christ, men who will meet an infallible church with an infallible Bible, the sacramentarianism of Rome with the free and sovereign grace of the Gospel, and the political machinations of Rome with an enlightened and aroused Christian church.
In regard to the large membership which the Roman Catholic Church claims in the United States, on the basis of which it seeks to exert and does exert an influence in various fields much beyond that which its actual numbers justify, Mr. McLoughlin gives some interesting and enlightening facts. He says:
“Probably the greatest lie of the Roman Catholic press is the elaborate annual reporting of Catholic statistics regarding the Church’s growth, as represented by the Official Catholic Directory published by P. J. Kennedy & Sons of New York.
“The Arizona Register, May 24, 1957, figures showed 34,536,851 Roman Catholics in America. The figure used in 1960 is 40,000,000. This is enough to make every Catholic proud of his faith and enough to scare every politician in the nation. That is exactly the result the hierarchy wishes to achieve by publishing the figures.
“An analysis of how these statistics are compiled will show how unreliable they are. In the first place no one is ever dropped from Catholic figures. As one priest wrote about me: ‘…there are no ex‑Catholics, there are merely bad Catholics.’ Furthermore, contrary to the custom of most Protestant churches, all baptized babies are considered as part of the Catholic populace. [In most Protestant church statistics children under 12 years of age are not included.]
“These accounting procedures are, however, not the important aspect of the utter falseness of Catholic statistics and therefore of Catholic political strength.
“The truth is that Catholics in the United States are, in most dioceses, not counted at all. The pattern of the compilation of Roman Catholic statistics should interest Protestants who are so precise in their membership rolls.
“There are, as such, no membership rolls in Catholic churches. Some parishes have a census of sorts, some have lists of regular contributors. But practically no Catholic pastor of a large parish in America knows how many good, bad or indifferent Catholics live within the geographical boundaries of his parish.
“This is, in the first place, due to the fact that, when Roman Catholics move from one parish to another or from one city to another, there is no constituted machinery in Catholicism to keep track of them. There are no letters of transfer or ‘demit’ so common in Protestant organizations.
“All a Catholic has to do when he moves to a new area is to go to Mass on Sunday—anywhere. Nor is it customary in Catholic churches to ask newcomers or visitors to rise or to fill out a card that might be used for statistical control. Only when there is a baptism, a wedding or a funeral to be performed need a Catholic identify himself to any priest. Barring these functions, a Catholic might well attend a large Catholic church for half a century without the clergy knowing that he is there or who he is.
“The annual publication of the Roman Catholic ‘strength’ in America is for several purposes. One is so that the hierarchy of America can scare the politicians and businessmen of the nation. Another is so that the Roman pastors can impress their bishops and the bishops can impress the Pope. The success of all these clerics is based largely on the numerical growth of the faithful under their care, not on their fidelity or their devotion to the Church” (American Culture and Catholic Schools, pp. 157-158).
After saying that in their Memorial Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, each new patient is asked if he will permit his clergyman to visit him, and that only ten percent of those who give their affiliation as Roman Catholic will permit a priest to see them, Mr. McLoughlin adds:
“The Catholic press might tone down its boasting, if it realized how weak is its control over its own people. Our Protestants and politicians might take heart enough to be real Americans if they could only realize that the Catholic press of America is nothing but ‘sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal’ and that Roman Catholic loyalty in America is confined to an unthinking minority and its alleged strength is purely a myth. The great strength of the Catholic hierarchy rests only in the fear of Protestant ministers with their boards and the fear of merchants who shrink from losing a Catholic dollar” (p. 161).
In another connection Mr. McLoughlin makes this statement:
“In their wildest untruthful exaggerated claims, Catholics do not constitute twenty‑five percent of the population. Ten percent would be closer to the truth” (p. 235).
The fantastic claim of the Roman Church that it has a world membership of some 400 to 500 million is arrived at by counting practically en masse the populations of the Southern European and Latin American countries while actually not more than 15 to 20 percent of the populations of those countries are practicing Roman Catholics. About a third of the total number claimed are illiterate, and hardly should be counted; and of the remainder considerably more than half by Rome’s own definition are in mortal sin, not having gone to mass or to confession within the prescribed time limits, having eaten meat on Fridays, or attended Protestant church services, etc. Many others have simply left the Roman Church without formal announcement. In any event, an honest count would reduce the number drastically.
We have a suggestion to offer which we believe will prove very helpful to the Protestant churches if it is followed, namely, that these churches should send missionaries and Christian workers of all kinds to Italy and to the other Roman Catholic nations of Europe. Italy, the home of the pope and the seat of the papacy, is today one of the most forgotten mission fields, yet one with very great possibilities. Says one Italian evangelical:
“The people of Italy live in an unbelievable spiritual ignorance. Most of them have never read the Bible; many do not even know that such a book exists. Besides this, they live in indescribable superstition as it is taught and practiced by the Church of Rome. People worship images, carry them on their shoulders, and pay great sums of money for the privilege. There are those who make pilgrimages, walking hundreds of miles to special shrines. The Virgin Mary is the central object of the teaching of the priests and the worship of the people” (Michele Tancredi, booklet, The Burden for Italy, p. 3; 1957).
For many decades Protestants have been establishing mission centers and founding Bible schools among the primitive tribes of Africa, South America, and the Orient. How much more reason there is for such work in Italy, among people of our own white race who are in such need and with whom we have so much more in common! Most of the people in Italy can read and write, hence they can read the Word of God for themselves and find the truth if it is presented to them. They have a language that is comparatively easy to master; and a knowledge of that one language makes it possible to reach the entire 50 million of the population, while throughout most of the other mission fields each tribe speaks a different language or dialect. And throughout most of Italy a favorable disposition on the part of the people welcomes evangelical work. Opposition can be expected, of course, from the Roman clergy; but when we allow Italian priests and nuns to operate freely in the Protestant United States we should insist firmly that we have the same freedom in operating there. The Roman Church in Italy, despite the great need for Christian and educational work in that land, has sent tens of thousands of missionaries, priests and nuns to the United States. On the other hand the great mass of our missionaries have gone to India, China, Japan, and Africa, to people of other races and with languages which are very difficult to master and customs so different from ours. Only the merest trickle of our missionaries have gone to Italy and to the other Roman Catholic countries of Europe, and only a tiny fraction of our money has been invested in evangelical work in those countries. The result is that Roman Catholicism is conquering the United States while Protestantism is not conquering the Roman Catholic countries. Let us redress this situation and, beginning with Italy, send a substantial number of missionaries to that country which in reality is almost as needy as are the outright pagan nations of the Orient.
As regards the church in her worldwide mission, we cannot match Rome’s political scheming, her propaganda machines, nor her appeals to prejudice and greed and intolerance; but we have something much more effective. We have the truth as set forth in the Word of God. And that truth, if fairly and sympathetically presented, will break down the walls of prejudice and greed and intolerance. We also have a definite superiority in wealth, education, ingenuity, and especially in the spiritual intangibles which give depth and stability to Christian endeavor. If we can but reach the free, inquiring mind and present the truth we can win the world for the Christian faith.
3 Is the Roman Catholic Church a True Church?
The elaborate system of doctrine and ritual that has been developed by the Roman Catholic Church apart from or even contrary to the Bible, together with her policy of persecution and her failure to raise the spiritual and economic standards in countries where she has long been in control, has caused many people to ask: Is the Roman Catholic Church a true church?
That the Roman Church has within it much of truth is not to be denied. It teaches the inspiration of the Scriptures, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection of the body, a future judgment, heaven and hell, and many other Scripture truths. In every instance, however, it nullifies these truths to a considerable extent by adding to or subtracting from what the Bible teaches.
In regard to the inspiration of the Scriptures, the Roman Church accepts the Bible as the Word of God but adds to it a great body of tradition as of equal authority although in many instances tradition contradicts the Bible and in any event largely supplants it. Tradition is in fact made superior to the Bible since it gives the official interpretation of the Bible. Whereas evangelical Christianity accepts the Bible as its one and only authoritative standard of faith and practice, a standard which consistently calls it back to a true norm when it is inclined to go astray, the Roman Church gives the Bible only a secondary place and in actual practice is governed by a pope who allegedly is infallible in his pronouncements concerning faith and morals and by a rigid system of Canon Law. Coupled with this is Rome’s traditional policy of withholding the Bible from the people; or if under pressure from Protestantism she must give the Bible to the people, only those editions which contain her interpretative notes are allowed.
The Roman Church teaches the deity of Christ. But it places Mary and the priest as mediators between Him and the believer, so that there is no way of access to Him except through them. He is usually presented either as a helpless babe in His mother’s arms or as a dead Christ upon a cross. In either case He is effectively removed as a strong, virile, living personality, or as a daily companion or Savior who hears and answers prayer. He has little to do with the problems of everyday life. All are urged to pray to Mary and the saints, who in turn present the prayers to Christ or to the Father and intercede for them.
The Roman Church teaches the forgiveness of sin, but only as it is confessed to a priest and absolution is received from him. It places a human priesthood between the people and God, while the Bible teaches that the sacrifice of Christ ended forever the work of the priests, that Christ alone is now our High Priest, and that we are to go directly to God in prayer. The complete dependence of the Roman Church upon the priesthood as the heart of the system, while the New Testament teaches that the sacrificing priesthood was abolished and that the universal priesthood of believers was established in its place, means that the system is false at its very center. Though some liberal churchmen talk of an eventual union of the Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church, this point alone, apart from that of acknowledging the authority of the pope, which is the one point that Romanists insist upon above all others, should be sufficient to show how impossible any such union is.
Instead of the Scripture doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone, the Roman Church substitutes a system of grace plus works, in which works have a larger place than faith, and in which one works long and hard for his salvation. In actual practice it has become a system of absolutism, claiming to admit souls to or exclude them from heaven as they meet or fail to meet its demands for confession and penance. Its saving truths are covered over with a mass of human inventions and throughout most of its ritual and practice they are not savingly presented. It gives such false and misleading answers to the crucial questions about the way of salvation that the large proportion of those who trust themselves to it fail to show by their lives that they have undergone a true spiritual change.
The Roman Church teaches that Christ established the church, but it places a man, the pope, at its head and invests him with absolute power. It develops the mass and an elaborate ritualism which had no counterpart in the apostolic church, and makes salvation dependent on obedience to the church. And since the Vatican is itself a union of church and state, it seeks to promote that kind of organization wherever possible.
And finally, the Roman Church teaches a final judgment with rewards and punishments. But its promise of rewards in heaven for the righteous is largely overshadowed with other teaching concerning a hideous place of torment called purgatory, which is of much more immediate concern as throughout his life the person tries to alleviate or shorten his sufferings there through the purchase of indulgences and by doing works of penance. The Bible contains not even the slightest evidence for the existence of purgatory, but instead teaches that the redeemed soul goes straight to heaven.
The condition of the present day Roman Church would seem to be in many ways similar to that of Judaism at the time of Christ. There was much truth in Judaism and there were many sincere believers among the people. But the priesthood was largely indifferent to the needs of the people, as were the ruling classes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Like the Roman priests, the Jewish priests withheld the Word of God from the people, and their chief concern was their own advancement. The primary opposition that Christ encountered came from the priests, and it was they whom He denounced most severely, as it was also they who were primarily responsible for having Him put to death. Similarly in the Roman Church the priesthood has departed so seriously from the simplicity of the Gospel, and the teachings of the Bible have been so thoroughly covered over with manmade rituals and canon laws that the features of the apostolic church are hardly recognizable. The record shows that in those countries where Romanism has been dominant and unopposed for long periods of time it has not advanced but instead has become corrupt, and that its tendency has been downward with a consequent weakening of those countries. That was most clearly shown in the first place during the Middle Ages, from about a.d. 500, until the Protestant Reformation, a period of roughly one thousand years when darkness covered the land and the people were largely helpless under the rule of a corrupt, tyrannical church that was more concerned about securing political power and vast wealth for itself than it was about promoting the spiritual and moral welfare of the people. Those conditions of poverty, ignorance, superstition, and illiteracy have continued to some extent even until the present time in Rome‑dominated Italy, Spain, Portugal, Southern Ireland, and Latin America. Wherever Rome rules, the people become enslaved to the priest. Where it is dominant it establishes but few schools, and in many places none at all unless spurred on to that work by competition from Protestantism. Rather it allows ignorance and superstition to continue among the people as a means of controlling them, and so promotes an anti‑Christian way of life.
This is the stinging rebuke to Romanism which it cannot deny or evade—that in four centuries of undisputed control in Latin America it has failed utterly to raise the spiritual, moral, social, and economic standards of the people, and that most of the progress that has been made during the past two generations has been the direct or indirect result of evangelical missions and of economic aid given to those countries by the Protestant United States. At the present time the United States government is engaged in a vast aid program to those countries which for the most part simply bypasses the Roman Catholic Church.
We have said that Romanism carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. This has been shown in one European country after another where, after gaining complete control, it has proved morally defective and has degenerated. Unrestrained by the power of strong civil governments, it perpetrated the horrors of the Inquisition in Spain and Italy. The excesses of the French Revolution were the end result of along period of degeneration, and the hatred of the people was directed as much against the Roman Catholic Church as against the oppressive state as hundreds of priests were killed and hundreds of churches were burned. At the close of the Second World War the Roman Catholic Church in Italy found itself very unpopular because it had supported Mussolini’s fascist policies, and today one third of the Italians vote Communist. Although present day Spain is quiet under dictator Franco, the situation there apparently is not much different. We have cited the report of Cardinal Spellman concerning the remark of a well informed Spaniard some eight years ago to the effect that if police protection in Spain were withdrawn, the life of every priest and nun would be in danger. What a tragedy that an organization professing to be the church of Christ should be guilty of such flagrant abuse that the people would want to kill its clergy and destroy its edifices! What a tragedy that the church should be the principal source of strength for a clerical‑fascist police state! And what a tragedy that in one country after another its actions have incited anticlericalism!
In most of the Latin American countries today the Roman Church has lost its hold, with the rank and file of the people indifferent toward it and the intellectuals openly opposed to it. A few years ago the government of Mexico confiscated the vast properties of the Roman Church in that land and put serious restrictions on its clergy, particularly on the foreign priests who were living in luxury at the expense of the people. Even today the government retains ownership of the churches. So strong was the resentment of the people that they made it illegal for the priests to appear on the streets in clerical garb—many did not want to see a priest anywhere.
The Roman Church thus has such serious inherent defects that over the broad course of history it cannot possibly emerge successful. Clearly it has lost its power to evangelize the world, and instead has become so confirmed in its present course that it cannot be reformed either from within or from without. In the main it is as antagonistic and as much an obstacle to evangelical Christianity as are the pagan religions. Admittedly there have been many high‑minded and saintly souls in the Roman Church, as on the other hand many in the evangelical churches have not been true to their profession. In every church some are better and some are worse than their creed. But a church must be judged, not by individuals, but as a system.
We have pointed out that the early church had no priests. We have also pointed out that during the fourth and fifth centuries great masses of people pushed into what had then become the official church, in order to obtain the benefits that such membership bestowed. The pagan priesthood, which was losing the battle in behalf of the old religion, readily sensed the trend of affairs and began to scheme as to how it too could share in those benefits. The result was that it too began to push into or infiltrate the church, at first cautiously, and then more openly and boldly. Some of the pagan temples were rededicated as Christian churches. This crafty, invading priesthood gathered to itself more and more power until it completely displaced the apostolic Christian ministry. It usurped the right of the people to direct the affairs of the church and centered that power in itself. Naturally it could not tolerate the Christian Scriptures, for they contradicted practically everything that it taught. Hence it sought to do the only expedient thing possible, which was to keep the Bible from the people. Then followed an age-long struggle as the people sought access to the Bible while the priesthood used every stratagem to keep it from them and finally resorted to the expediency of placing it on the Index of Forbidden Books where it remained for centuries. But so basic was the Bible to the life of the church, and so deeply had it embedded itself in the writings of the early church fathers, that it could not be entirely displaced. That struggle continued for more than a thousand years, or roughly from the fall of Rome in a.d. 476 until the dawn of the Protestant Reformation in 1517, at which time a large part of Christendom threw off the yoke of the priesthood and its elaborate ritual and returned to the simplicity of the first century apostolic church. The Roman Catholic priesthood was, therefore, in its origin nothing more nor less than the pagan priesthood of ancient Rome which by skillful subterfuge had fastened itself upon the Christian church.
Nor should it be thought strange that an event such as that just described should have occurred. In our own twentieth century, with its much richer store of theological knowledge and its much wider circulation of the Bible, a quite similar event has taken place in several Protestant denominations. What we term “Liberalism” or “Modernism” in those churches has quite effectively displaced the evangelical Christian faith with a non‑doctrinal “social gospel” which tends to discard the supernatural and which for the historic Christian doctrine of salvation through a crucified and risen Redeemer substitutes a naturalistic religion in which man, by his own good works, supposedly raises himself to a higher economic and social level and so saves himself and builds a better world. When such a development takes place it makes little difference whether it is accomplished through the work of a usurping priesthood or through the promotion of a false philosophy which accomplishes the same result.
The admonition in Scripture is: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Surely the fruits of Romanism as they have been manifested throughout history and in the various parts of the world are sufficient to disprove its arrogant claim that it is “the only true church.” Indeed, when seen at its best it is a badly deformed type of Christianity, and when seen as it more often manifests itself, in lands where it has long been dominant, it is primarily not a church at all but a gigantic business and political organization that merely uses religion as a cloak. In those lands it makes little effort to hide its greed for power and its avarice for wealth. It victimizes first of all its own people and then all others who come under its sway. In general it has sought to weaken or destroy free governments. Its traditional policy toward other churches and other Christians who do not acknowledge its authority has been one of bitter opposition, oppression, and, when expedient, persecution, with tens of thousands having been put to death for their faith and millions more subjected to unspeakable physical torture and mental anguish. Such actions are contrary to the teachings of the Bible and they certainly are not the marks of the true church. Its interpretation of the Scriptures is so erroneous and its practices are so persistently unchristian that over the long period of time its influence for good is outweighed by its influence for evil. It must, therefore, as a system, be judged to be a false church.